The Rock- and Paleo-magnetics Lab
The U.S. Geological Survey's Rock- and Paleo-magnetics Laboratory is a facility dedicated to the study of past variations of the Earth's magnetic field and the magnetic properties of rocks. Scientists affiliated with the laboratory work to gain a better understanding of the Earth's field by studying the magnetic record contained in rocks and archeologic materials. The knowledge gained can then be applied toward the solution of various geologic problems including the mapping of active volcanoes and correlation of ancient earthquake deposits to better understand the related hazards, aiding in the determination of young geologic materials, and deducing the tectonic histories of structurally complex regions
Map and Directions The Rock- and Paleo-magnetics Laboratory is located in building 16 along the southern edge of the USGS campus at 345 Middlefield Road in Menlo Park, CA.
Pioneering research on the geomagnetic polarity time scale performed in the original laboratory was instrumental in confirming the hypothesis of seafloor spreading and led to the development of the theory of plate tectonics. In recognition of this landmark research, the original laboratory building was designated as a National Historic Landmark (#94001647) in 1994. Although the original laboratory building no longer stands, it and the historic research performed within it are commemorated in the new Rock- and Paleo-magnetics Laboratory building. Visitors are welcome to visit the laboratory, view the historical exhibits, and see a video describing the research and events that led to the landmark designation. To learn more, see:
History of the Paleomagnetics Lab
Learn more about what we do
***see our new automated sample handling system***