Baylor University
Department of Geosciences
College of Arts and Sciences

Geology News Items

The Thomas T. Goforth Paleomagnetism Laboratory

Nov. 9, 2011

Ken Carlile, Tom Goforth, and Dan Peppe standing next to the superconducting rock magnetometer and its components in the Thomas T. Goforth Paleomagnetism Laboratory after the lab dedication.

Dr. Goforth served the Baylor Geology Department from 1987 until his retirement in 2007, including 9 years as Department Chair. Researchers working in the state of the art paleomagnetism laboratory are working to understand the magnetic properties of rocks, which is used to determine the age and geographic location of rocks when formed and to provide information about the rocks history of deposition, burial, and uplift.

All of the scientific instruments in the Thomas T. Goforth Paleomagnetism Laboratory are housed inside a large magnetically shielded room inside the main laboratory space. The magnetostatic shield is made of two layers of steel separated by a 15 inch air gap that have been magnetized to attenuate the earth's magnetic field, and together the two layers block out about 99.6% of the earth's magnetic field. The very low magnetic field inside the magnetostatic shield makes is possible to measure the magnetic signatures of rocks and sediments very precisely and accurately. The main instrument housed inside the shield is a superconducting rock magnetometer that measures the magnetic signature of rocks and sediments. Purchase of this instrument was made possible through the generous financial support received from Baylor Geology alumnus Dr. Kenneth Q. Carlile (Ph.D.'96), who is currently a member of the Baylor University Board of Regents. One of the major features of Baylor's Thomas T. Goforth Paleomagnetism Laboratory is an automated sample-changing system capable of performing reproducible measurements on a series of samples successively between computer inputs. With the installation of the magnetometer and the automated sample changer system, Baylor has become one of only ten US and international universities in the RAPID (Rock And Paleomagnetism Instrument Development) consortium (Learn More About RAPID).

More information about the Thomas T. Goforth Paleomagnetism Laboratory and the instruments in the lab is at