In Chinese loess, the Brunhes-Matuyama (B-M) geomagnetic reversal occurs ∼25 k.y. prior to the age found in marine sediments. This offset has been attributed by some to post-depositional magnetic overprinting of loess, while others have argued it is due to errors in the loess time scale. Here we solve this long-standing debate by exploiting a new method to extract reproducible records of geomagnetic field intensity from loess with 10Be—a proxy for global average geomagnetic field intensity—and using it to show that a pronounced minimum in field intensity (a requirement for dipole field reversal) is recorded in two separate loess records at ca. 780 ± 3 kyr B.P. This timing is synchronous with the B-M reversal timing seen in marine records, verifying the standard loess time scale as correct, but it is ∼25 k.y. younger than the age (depth) of the magnetic polarity reversal recorded in these same Chinese loess sediments, demonstrating that loess magnetic overprinting has occurred.

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