A critical appraisal of the "Day" diagram

Roberts, AP, Tauxe L, Heslop D, Zhao X, Jiang ZX.  2018.  A critical appraisal of the "Day" diagram. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 123:2618-2644.

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acquisition efficiency, ambiguity, Day diagram, domain state, Geochemistry & Geophysics, grain-size limits, hysteresis properties, low-temperature oxidation, magnetic mineral reduction, pelagic sediments, pseudo-single-domain, remanence, reversal curve diagrams, rock magnetism, rock-magnetism, ti-rich, titanomagnetites


The Day diagram (Day et al., 1977, ) is used widely to make inferences about the domain state of magnetic mineral assemblages. Based on theoretical and empirical arguments, the Day diagram is demarcated into stable single domain (SD), pseudo single domain (PSD), and multidomain (MD) zones. It is straightforward to make the necessary measurements for a sample and to plot results within the domain state framework based on the boundaries defined by Day et al. (1977, ). We discuss 10 issues that limit Day diagram interpretation, including (1) magnetic mineralogy, (2) the associated magnetocrystalline anisotropy type, (3) mineral stoichiometry, (4) stress state, (5) surface oxidation, (6) magnetostatic interactions, (7) particle shape, (8) thermal relaxation, (9) magnetic particle mixtures, and (10) definitional/measurement issues. In most studies, these variables are unknowns and cannot be controlled for, so that hysteresis parameters for single bulk samples are nonunique and any data point in a Day diagram could result from infinite combinations of relevant variables. From this critical appraisal, we argue that the Day diagram is fundamentally ambiguous for domain state diagnosis. Widespread use of the Day diagram has also contributed significantly to prevalent but questionable views, including underrecognition of the importance of stable SD particles in the geological record and reinforcement of the unhelpful PSD concept and of its geological importance. Adoption of approaches that enable correct domain state diagnosis should be an urgent priority for component-specific understanding of magnetic mineral assemblages and for quantitative rock magnetic interpretation.