Simo Spassov

Dr. sc. nat.
tmnina geologias

Section du Magnétisme Environnemental

Centre de Physique du Globe Telephone:  +32 60 395 424
Institut Royal Météorologique Facsimile:   +32 60 395 423
Dourbes  -   5670

Research Interests and Activities
Since September 2003, I am working in the European research project AARCH (Archaeomagnetic Applications for the Rescue of Cultural Heritage). Here you will find a link to the AARCH workshop 3 in Madrid from 18.03. - 21.03. 2005.
The temporary record of the Earth's magnetic field intensity in Greece is solely based on material from archaeological sites. Data from historical lava flows on Santorini would complete the Greek data set and provide additional control points. Within this frame, eight lava flows ranging in time from 46 AD until 1950 AD and volcanic clasts from the Minoan eruption 1640 BC were sampled. Archaeological material from Hellenistic pottery kilns has been sampled, too. Magnetic remanence carrying minerals often alter during thermal treatments, such as during the procedure for determination of the ancient magnetic field. The samples were tested for thermal stability (thermomagnetic analyses of magnetic susceptibility and magnetic remanence). First results show that the lava samples are thermally stable and may be useful for absolute ancient field intensity determination. The archaeological material is thermally stable, too. In a next step the absolute ancient field intensity will be determined using Thellier-Thellier and microwave analysis.

The application of rock magnetic methods in environmental sciences is appreciated because of non-destructive and fast measurement schemes.  Magnetic methods offer  the great  advantage  that  low  concentrations  (in  the  order  of   ppm) of ferromagnetic phases can be  detected,  identified  and  quantified  without costly sample preparation and within short measurement time. Iron  is  one  of  the  most  common  elements  in  the  Earth's  crust.  In combination with oxygen and sulphur it forms magnetic minerals, which  occur to a greater or lesser extent universally. Nanometre sized particles are  of particular interest because they  occur  in  great  quantities,  implying  a large surface area. Due  to  these  properties,  nanoparticles  can  provoke biological reactions itself  or act as a vehicle for other toxic components.  Iron oxides and sulphides have excellent adsorbent properties, which  attract  not only heavy metals but also organic contaminants  and  even  radioactive pollutants. Since, however, magnetism is often not directly related to the pollution source, the magnetism proxy often cannot easily be understood in terms of pollution. I am  interested in the calibration of the environmental tool "rock magnetism" and in the relationship between surface properties of magnetic minerals and their magnetic structures. In this context, the magnetic properties of urban particulate matter (PM) were analysed. Two magnetic components with well defined magnetic properties have been identified and quantified in samples of different pollution degree. The  magnetic results were compared with independent chemical investigations and are in excellent agreement.

Natural and anthropogenic aspects have to be considered for the prediction of future climate scenarios. Palaeoclimatic records offer the unique possibility to study climate without anthropogenic influence. Natural variability, different states and the response of climate to external changes (e.g. closure of the Isthmus of Panama, uplift of the Tibetan Plateau) can be explored. This information can be used to extend the present climate record and provide longer time frames for evaluating the significance of global warming in recent times. I am interested in constructing an ecosystem model for loess/palaeosol sediments. The two states (loess and palaeosol) may be investigated in detail. Weathering, pedogenetic and diagenetic processes, as well as vegetation and climatic influence can be studied intensively. Rock magnetic, sedimentological and geochemical methods may used to characterise the lithological/palaeoclimatic relations and climate feedback processes.

My PhD research was  intended to contribute to complex palaeomagnetic and palaeoclimatic questions. It tackled a  major  conflict  in the magnetostratigraphy of Chinese loess/ palaeosol sections: the position  of the Matuyama-Brunhes boundary (MBB). The boundary has been observed  in  the marine oxygen isotope  stage  19  in  a  horizon  which  corresponds  to  an interglacial period.  In  most  of  the  Chinese  loess/palaeosol  sequences, however, this major polarity change has been  observed  in  a  loess  layer, which clearly represents a cold climate interval. This causes  a  large  age discrepancy for the MBB of about 23 to 26 kyr  between  magnetostratigraphic records on land and in the marine realm. The MBB transitional interval  was  investigated  in  detail.  The  observed polarity pattern is characterised by abrupt changes of normal  and  reversed polarities. Different nearby loess sections were considered as  well  as  an ODP record near Japan. In each case the polarity record  was  different.  It was concluded that  the  transitional  polarity  behaviour  rather  reflects complex magnetisation lock-in processes than the Earth's magnetic field. In order to shed  some  light  on  this  problem,  grain  size  fractionated loesses and palaeosols of different weathering and  pedogenetic  degree  were analysed.  Evidence  was  found  for  coexisting  detrital  and   pedogenic remanence carrying components using mainly coercivity  spectra  analysis  in combination with geochemical and other rock magnetic methods. The  different components have been quantified, too. It was further  shown,  that  detrital remanence carriers  were  not  destroyed  during  weathering  and  that  new pedogenic components in palaeosols derive from iron bearing clays  and  other ferruginous silicates. The previous results were used to set up a magnetisation lock-in  model  for loess/palaeosol  sediments.  This  model  was  able  to  explain   the   time discrepancy between marine and continental loess sediments as  well  as  the complicated  transitional  magnetisation  record   in   terms   of   delayed acquisition of magnetic remanence and varying  detrital/pedogenic  remanence contribution.

CV en bref

1987 - 1989    apprenticeship skilled worker pharmacy, Schwanen-Apotheke, Chemnitz, Saxony, Germany
1990 - 1993    grammar school at  Abendgymnasium Chemnitz, Saxony, Germany
1993 - 1995    Study of Geophysics at University of Mining and Technology, Freiberg, Saxony, Germany
1995 - 1998    Study of Earth Sciences at ETH Zürich, Switzerland, degree earned: Dipl. Natw. ETH
1998 - 2002    Doctoral Thesis at ETH Zürich,  Switzerland, degree earned: Dr. sc. nat.
2002 - 2003    Research associate at ETH Zürich, Switzerland
2003 - 2004    Postdoctoral studies at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece


    S. Spassov, F. Heller, M.E. Evans, L.P. Yue and Z.L. Ding, 
    Geomagnetic reversals in the  sediments  of  the  Central  Chinese  Loess
    Plateau, Geologica Carpathica, 51, pp. 197, 2000.

    S. Spassov, F.  Heller,  M.E.  Evans,  L.P.  Yue  and  Z.L.  Ding,  The
    Matuyama/Brunhes geomagnetic polarity transition at Lingtai and  Baoji,
    Chinese Loess Plateau, Physics and Chemistry of the Earth, 26, pp.

    A. Tsatskin, F. Heller, T. S. Gendler, E. I. Virina, S. Spassov, J.  Du
    Pasquier, J. Hus, E. A. Hailwood, V. I. Bagin and S. S. Faustov, A  new
    scheme of terrestrial paleoclimate evolution during the last 1.5 Ma  in
    the western Black sea region: integration of  soil  studies  and  loess
    magnetism, Physics and Chemistry of the Earth, 26, pp. 911-916,  

    S. Spassov, Loess magnetism, environment  and  climate  change  on  the
    Chinese Loess Plateau, Doctoral Thesis, Diss  No.  14976,  ETH
    Zürich, Switzerland, 2002.

    S. Spassov, F. Heller, M.E. Evans, L.P. Yue and T. v. Dobeneck, A
    lock-in model for  the  complex  Matuyama-Brunhes  boundary  record 
    of  the loess/palaeosol sequence at Lingtai  (Central  Chinese  Loess
    Plateau) Geophysical Journal International, 155, pp. 350-366, 2003.

    S. Spassov, F. Heller, R. Kretzschmar, M.E. Evans, L.P.  Yue  and
    D.K. Nourgaliev, Detrital and  pedogenic  magnetic  mineral  phases  in
    the loess/palaeosol sequence at Lingtai (Central  Chinese  Loess  Plateau),
    Physics  of  the  Earth  and  Planetary Interiors, 140, pp. 255-275, 2003.

    S. Spassov, R. Egli,  F.  Heller,  D.K.  Nourgaliev  and  J.A.  Hannam,
    Magnetic quantification of urban pollution sources in atmospheric particulate
    matter, Geophysical Journal International, 159, pp. 555-564, 2004.

    Gendler, T.S., Heller, F., Tsatskin, A.,  S. Spassov, Du Pasquier, J., and S.S.
    Faustov, Roxolany and Novaya Etuliya - Key sections in the western Black Sea
    loess area: magnetostratigraphy, rock magnetism and paleopedology,
    submitted to: Quaternary Research, 2004.


    S. Spassov, F. Heller, T.S. Gendler,  V.I.  Bagin,  E.I.  Virina,  S.S.
    Faustov, J. Hus, E.A.  Hailwood  and  A.  Tsatskin,  Magnetism  of  the
    loess/palaeosol  sequence  at  Novaya   Etuliya,   Moldavia,   European
    Geophysical Society, XXIV General Assembly, The Hague, The
    Netherlands, 19. - 23. April 1999. (oral presentation)

    T.S. Gendler,  F.  Heller,  S.  Spassov,  J.  Hus,  E.I.  Virina,  E.A.
    Hailwood, A. Tsatskin, V.I. Bagin, E.A.  Haliulina  and  S.S.  Faustov,
    Para- and ferromagnetic minerals in loesses and  palaeosols  at  Novaya
    Etuliya, Moldavia: Archive  of  Quaternary  paleoenvironmental  change,
    European Geophysical Society, XXV General Assembly, Nice, France, 25.
    29. 4. 2000 (poster)

    S. Spassov, F. Heller, M.E. Evans, Yue, L.P. and Z.L. Ding, Geomagnetic
    Polarity Transitions  at  Lingtai  and  Baoji,  Central  Chinese  Loess
    Plateau, European Geophysical  Society,  XXV  General  Assembly,  Nice,
    France, 25. - 29. 4. 2000 (poster)

    A. Tsatskin, F. Heller, T.S. Gendler, E.I. Virina, S.  Spassov,  J.  du
    Pasquier, J. Hus, E.A. Hailwood, V.I. Bagin and  S.S.  Faustov,  A  new
    scheme of terrestrial paleoclimate evolution during  the  last  1.5  Ma
    from the Western Black Sea region:  integration  of  soil  studies  and
    loess magnetism, European Geophysical Society,  XXV  General  Assembly,
    Nice, France, 25. - 29. 4. 2000. (poster)

    S. Spassov, F. Heller, M.E. Evans, L.P. Yue and Z.L. Ding,  Geomagnetic
    reversals in the sediments of the Central Chinese  Loess  Plateau,  New
    Trends in Geomagnetism VII, Paleo- Rock  and  Environmental  Magnetism,
    19. bis 25. 06. 2000, Moravany, Slovakia. (oral presentation)

    S. Spassov, High resolution record of geomagnetic  polarity  events  at
    Lingtai, China, Kolloquium Institut für Geophysik, ETH Zürich, 30.  06.
    2000, Zürich, Switzerland. (oral presentation)

    S. Spassov,  R. Egli and F. Heller,  A  new  method  for  IRM
    analysis, MAG-NET (TMR-network) workshop, Zürich 2000.

    S. Spassov, T. v. Dobeneck, F. Heller, M.E. Evans and L.P. Yue, Delayed
    lock-in of the Matuyama-Brunhes boundary in the loess/palaeosol sequence
    at  Lingtai  (Central  Chinese  Loess  Plateau),  European  Geophysical
    Society, XXVI General Assembly, Nice, France, 25. - 30.  3. 2001.  (oral

    S. Spassov, Kretzschmar, F. Heller, M.E. Evans and L.P.  Yue,  Evidence
    for pedogenic magnetite in loess and  palaeosols?  EGS02-A-02544,
    European  Geophysical Society, XXVII General Assembly, Nice, France,
    21.-26. April  2002. (poster)

    F. Heller, S. Spassov, M.E. Evans, L.P. Yue and T. v. Dobeneck, Delayed
    lock-in of the Matuyama-Brunhes geomagnetic polarity  boundary  in  the
    loess/palaeosol sequence at Lingtai  (Central  Chinese  Loess  Plateau),
    International workshop on fundamental rock magnetism and  environmental
    applications, Erice, Sicily, 26. 06. - 01. 07. 2002.

    S. Spassov, Loess magnetism, environment  and  climate  change  on  the
    Chinese Loess Plateau, oral presentation at the Institute of  Geography
    at the University of Bern, Switzerland, 21. 01. 2003.

    R. Egli and S. Spassov, A  novel  method  for  the  identification  and
    characterisation of magnetic sources in  sediments,  EAE03-J-04970,
    EGS-AGU-EUG  Joint Assembly, Nice, France, 06. - 11. April 2003.
    (oral presentation).

    S. Spassov, R. Egli, F. Heller and D.K. Nourgaliev,  Discrimination  of
    atmospheric particulate matter sources with magnetic methods, 
    EAE03-J-00846, EGS-AGU-EUG Joint Assembly, Nice,  France,
    06.-11.  April 2003.  (poster presentation).

    R. Egli, S. Spassov and F. Heller, Coercivity distribution of soft-magnetic
    components and their occurrence in sediments and sedimentary rocks, AGU
    fall meeting, 8 - 12 December 2003 San Francisco, CA. GP41B-0049
    (poster presentation).

    S. Spassov, R. Egli and F. Heller, Magnetic quantification of road traffic
    pollution in atmospheric particulate matter: a new approach, AGU fall
    meeting, 8 - 12 December 2003 San Francisco, CA. GP41B-0048 (poster 

    R. Egli, S. Spassov,  Baster, I., Sturm, M., Heller, F., Kondopoulou, D.,
    Occurrence and magnetic properties of magnetosomes in lake sediments
    and implications for environmental magnetism, EGU04-A-02206, EGU 1st
    General Assembly, Nice, France, 25-30 April 2004 (oral presentation).

    Spassov, S., Egli, R., Zananiri, I., De Marco, E., Lüscher, P., Kretzschmar, R.,
    A detailed chemical and rock magnetic investigation of a soil profile in
    Switzerland, EGU04-A-06299, EGU 1st General Assembly, Nice, France,
    25-30 April 2004 (oral presentation).

    Spassov, S., De Marco, E., Zananiri, I., Kondopoulou, D., Magnetic properties
    of volcanics and archaeological material: Implications for palaeointensity
    determination, EGU04-A-05102, EGU 1st General Assembly, Nice, France,
    25-30 April 2004 (poster presentation).

    invited talks

    Spassov, S., Hus, J., Egli, R., Heller, F. and M.E. Evans, The concept of linear
    unmixing - a key for interpreting environmental magnetic signals, GP34A-01
    AGU Fall Meeting, San Francisco, USA, 13-17 December  2004.


    Kondopoulou, D., Polya, D., Spassov, S., Atzemoglou, A.,  Zananiri, I. and
    B. Maher, Application of environmental magnetic techniques in detecting
    nanoparticle contamination. British-Greek Partnership in Science and
    Technology, 2004-2006.

    Spassov, S., Introduction to Environmental magnetism (lecture for graduate
    students), Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, June 2004.

New book  Environmental Magnetism                                                                                                                                                         

Ted Evans and Friedrich Heller give in their recently published book a very comprehensive review of the state-of-the-art of environmental magnetism, covering a broad spectrum of applications.
last updated 10.02.2005