Saturday, May 28, 2016


A lodestone is a naturally magnetized piece of the mineral magnetite. They are naturally-occurring magnets, which can attract iron. The property of magnetism was first discovered in antiquity through magnetic compasses, and their importance to early navigation is indicated by the name lodestone, which in Middle English means 'course stone' or 'leading stone', from the now-obsolete meaning of lode as ‘journey, way’.
lodestones. Pieces of lodestone, suspended so they could turn, were the first
Lodestone is one of the few minerals that is found naturally magnetized. Magnetite is black or brownish-black, with a metallic luster, a Mohs hardness of 5.5–6.5 and a black streak.


The process by which lodestone is created has long been an open question in geology. Only a small amount of the magnetite on Earth is found magnetized as lodestone. Ordinary magnetite is attracted to a magnetic field like iron and steel is, but does not tend to become magnetized itself; it has too low a magnetic coercivity (resistance to demagnetization) to stay magnetized for long.
Microscopic examination of lodestones has found them to be made of magnetite (Fe3O4) with inclusions of maghemite (cubic Fe2O3), often with impurity metal ions of titanium, aluminium, and manganese. This inhomogeneous crystalline structure gives this variety of magnetite sufficient coercivity to remain magnetized and thus be a permanent magnet.
The other question is how lodestones get magnetized. The Earth's magnetic field at 0.5 gauss is too weak to magnetize a lodestone by itself. The leading theory is that lodestones are magnetized by the strong magnetic fields surrounding lightning bolts. This is supported by the observation that they are mostly found near the surface of the Earth, rather than buried at great depth.

Lodestones were used as an early form of magnetic compass. Magnetite typically carries the
dominant magnetic signature in rocks, and so it has been a critical tool in paleomagnetism, a science important in understanding plate tectonics and as historic data for magnetohydrodynamics and other scientific fields. The relationships between magnetite and other iron-rich oxide minerals such as ilmenite, hematite, and ulvospinel have been much studied; the reactions between these minerals and oxygen influence how and when magnetite preserves a record of the Earth's magnetic field.
Magnetite has been very important in understanding the conditions under which rocks form.
Magnetite reacts with oxygen to produce hematite, and the mineral pair forms a buffer that can control oxygen fugacity. Commonly, igneous rocks contain grains of two solid solutions, one of magnetite and ulvospinel and the other of ilmenite and hematite. Compositions of the mineral pairs are used to calculate how oxidizing was the magma (i.e., the oxygen fugacity of the magma): a range of oxidizing conditions are found in magmas and the oxidation state helps to determine how the magmas might evolve by fractional crystallization.
Magnetite also occurs in many sedimentary rocks, including banded iron formations. In many igneous rocks, magnetite-rich and ilmenite-rich grains occur that precipitated together in magma. Magnetite also is produced from peridotites and dunites by serpentinization.
The Curie temperature of magnetite is 858 K (585 °C; 1,085 °F).

1) Magnetic recording
Audio recording using
magnetic acetate tape was developed in the 1930s. The German magnetophon utilized magnetite powder as the recording medium. Following World War II the 3M company continued work on the German design. In 1946 the 3M researchers found they could improve the magnetite based tape, which utilized powders of cubic crystals, by replacing the magnetite with needle shaped particles of gamma ferric oxide (γ-Fe2O3).

2)  Catalysis
Magnetite is the catalyst for the industrial synthesis of ammonia

3)  Arsenic sorbent
Magnetite powder efficiently removes arsenic(III) and arsenic(V) from water, the efficiency of which increases ~200 times when the magnetite particle size decreases from 300 to 12 nm. Arsenic-contaminated drinking water is a major problem around the world, which can be solved using magnetite as a sorbent.

4)  Other
Because of its stability at high temperatures, it is used for coating industrial watertube steam boilers. The magnetite layer is formed after a chemical treatment (e.g. by using hydrazine).
Iron-metabolizing bacteria can trigger redox reactions in microscopic magnetite particles. Using light, magnetite can reduce chromium (VI) (its toxic form), converting it to less toxic chromium (III), which can then be incorporated into a harmless magnetite crystal. Phototrophic Rhodopseudomonas palustris oxidized the magnetite, while Geobacter sulfurreducens reduced it, readying it for another cycle.

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