The magnetic viscosity of sediments, as indicated by thermal demagnetization of natural remanent magnetization (NRM), depends on two main parameters: (i) the specific magnetic viscosity of the material and (ii) the efficiency of the primary magnetization process. In an attempt to determine the relative importance of these two variables, we studied a Lower Pleistocene lacustrine sequence bearing a primary reversed detrital remanent magnetization (DRM).Using natural samples and small cores made of crushed sediment, our study is based on the thermodynamic theory of rock magnetism developed by L. Néel, who established an equivalence between time and temperature, that is, between viscous remanent (VRM) and thermoremanent (TRM) magnetization processes. The determination of the blocking temperature spectra from 20 to 152 °C allows us to calculate the maximum theoretical VRM acquired in situ at each horizon, while the detailed thermal study of the NRM permits an appraisal of the DRM quality. This leads us to define a geological viscosity index, which accounts, in a rather convincing manner, for the behaviour of the samples observed during the classical paleomagnetic study. For the section studied, it appears that the variations of this index are closely correlated with the efficiency of the DRM acquisition process.

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