Soil kaolins from Indonesia and Western Australia and a range of reference kaolins were studied using Mössbauer spectroscopy, electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy and SQUID magnetometry. Mössbauer spectra indicate that the Fe within the kaolins is in the high-spin Fe3+ oxidation state and that a large fraction of the Fe is present as dispersed atoms residing within the octahedral sites of the kaolinite crystal structure. The EPR spectra are typical for soil kaolins except for the absence of radiation-induced defects for the Indonesian kaolins. The Fe(I) spectra are dominant with a strong symmetric peak at g = 4.3, the presence of Fe(II) spectra is shown by a shoulder on this peak at g = 4.9 and a small phase up peak at g = 9.2.
Low-temperature (5 K) magnetization (M) measurements over large field (H) sweeps (±70 kOe) yielded M(H) curves which are fitted well with Brillouin functions indicating the paramagnetic nature of the kaolins at temperatures down to 5 K. A very small remanent magnetization was detectable in the kaolins. Remanent magnetization to saturation magnetization ratios ranged from 10−4 to 10−3 for the Indonesian kaolins and were all ~10−3 for the Western Australian kaolins, indicating that at high fields the vast majority of the magnetization of the kaolins is due to paramagnetic ions.
Zero-field-cooled and field-cooled magnetization measurements in small fields (500 Oe) indicate that the Indonesian kaolins are generally free from magnetically-blocked material down to a temperature of 5 K. The magnetic susceptibility of the Indonesian kaolins shows Curie Law behaviour indicating paramagnetic behaviour over all temperatures down to 5 K. Measurements on the Western Australian kaolins indicated the presence of some magnetic material that is magnetically blocked at temperatures below ~200–250 K. As a consequence, the magnetic susceptibility showed large deviations from Curie Law behaviour.