Magnetic Susceptibility of Soils from Eastern Botswana: A Reconnaissance Survey and Potential Applications

  •  Rubeni Ranganai    
  •  Moikwathai Moidaki    
  •  James G. King    


Soil magnetic properties measurements are relatively fast and inexpensive but have been proved to be sufficient for preliminary investigations in diverse socio-developmental issues. This paper presents results of a reconnaissance study of soil colour and magnetic susceptibility (c) in eastern Botswana, where ~80% of the population resides. The work is a first step to creating a database of rock and soil magnetic properties and to document spatial variations in magnetic properties in the country. These measurements are important as constraints for interpretation of available aeromagnetic data and can also be exploited for environmental soil research (pollution) and land-use planning (agriculture). The soils sampled include derivatives of varying types and provenance such as Archean gneissic granitoids, metamorphosed rocks (granulites), volcano-sedimentary assemblages, Karoo basalts, and alluvial sediments. A soil colour chart was used since soil colours and magnetic properties are diagnostic of its parent rock sources and weathering profiles. Soil magnetic susceptibilities were measured at both low frequency (0.46 MHz, clf) and high frequency (4.6 MHz, chf), thus allowing calculation of frequency-dependent susceptibility (cfd, cfd%) for detecting ultra-fine ferromagnetic minerals.

It was found that soils with Hues ranging from 7.5YR to 10YR have appreciable amount of magnetic materials and soils with Hues of 2.5YR are generally nonmagnetic. The results of soil magnetic susceptibility profiles show spatial variation closely related to the variation in basement rocks, which provides excellent evidence that the magnetic susceptibility variation reflects basement rocks or bedrock composition (soil parent material). In relation to the Botswana physiographic units, soils from the hardveld (Precambrian) show the highest susceptibilities, followed by those from the sandveld, with the lowest values being from the alluvial. The frequency dependent magnetic susceptibilities indicate the presence of ultra-fine super-paramagnetic minerals such as magnetite/maghemite. It is suggested that a systematic and continuous programme of rock and soil magnetic measurements would benefit various socio-economic and development priority sectors of Botswana. This also applies to many developing countries in Africa where soil physics and measurement of soil susceptibility in particular, is generally still at an embryonic stage.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
  • ISSN(Print): 1916-9779
  • ISSN(Online): 1916-9787
  • Started: 2009
  • Frequency: semiannual

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