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Montanuniversitaet Leoben
Palaeomagnetiklabor Gams
Gams 45
A - 8130 Frohnleiten

Paleomagnetic Laboratory Gams


With the Paleomagnetic Laboratory Gams/Frohnleiten, the Montanuniversität has possessed a research facility with a broad orientation which is unique in Austria and recognised in the international scientific field since 1977. The Paleomagnetic Laboratory is the basis for independent research activity and interdisciplinary cooperations on numerous geoscientific questions.


Robert Scholger (Laboratory manager): Prospection, Geodynamics, Magnetic stratigraphy, Environmental magnetism, Fabric analysis

Elisabeth Schnepp: Archaeomagnetism, Magnetic stratigraphy

Hermann J. Mauritsch (Univ. Prof. i.R.)

Franz Pusterwallner: Technician

former team members

Guest scientists (recent)

Roman Leonhardt (2011-, ZAMG, Vienna): Geo&Paleomagnetism
Elina Aidona (2007-, Univ. Thessaloniki): Archaeomagnetism
Fritz Popp (2005-, Univ. Vienna): Magnetic stratigraphy

former guest scientists

Research areas

Geodynamics & Tectonics

  • NCA
  • ALCAPA Region
  • Pyrenees

Magnetic stratigraphy

  • Permian/Triassic- & Cretaceous/Palaeogene-boundary
  • Tertiary in Austria
  • Quarternary in the Alpine area


  • Saecular variation
  • Archaeomagnetic dating

Magnetic Prospection

  • Archaeometry
  • Mineral deposits

Fabric analysis

  • Magnetic fabric analysis of weakly deformed rocks (AMS & Strain)

Environmental magnetism

  • Magnetic indicators for heavy metals in soils and sediment




High field devices


Standard equipment for paleomagnetic sampling and sample preparation

Review of the development of the laboratory Gams

The development of the paleomagnetic research facility in Leoben goes back to the suggestion of Univ. Prof. Dr. Walter E. Petrascheck. During a “Symposium on Continental Drift” in London (1965), Prof. Dr. Runcorn from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne reported on the newest research results of the young research area of palaeomagnetics. Results from North America (Runcorn &Irving, 1956), India (Klegg, 1956), Australia (Irving & Green, 1958), South America (Creer, 1958), Africa (Creer, 1958) and Japan (Nagata, 1959) proved the high mobility of the continents in their geological development. These results agreed to a large degree with transcontinental models which W.E. Petrascheck was developing with the comparison of ore deposit genetic findings.

 Together with Univ. Prof. Dr. Franz Weber, ordinary of the Department for Petroleum Geology and Applied Geophysics, a dissertation with the title “Palaeomagnetic examinations of Styrian basalts with special consideration of magnetic purification and construction of an alternating magnetic field demagnetisation machine” was offered in 1967. H.J. Mauritsch, the author of this review, was entrusted with this topic.

Due to the many disruptions, the small laboratory, which during this dissertation was housed in the old Peter-Tunner building in Leoben, proved to be unsuitable for the city area. Based on experiences abroad, a long-term suitable object was sought and found in the old school in Gams/Frohnleiten. Little traffic, a distance of more than 3 km from the railway line as well as a stable grid, data line and water supply offered almost ideal conditions for highly sensitive magnetic field measurements. Since the municipality immediately agreed to the further use as a laboratory, Prof. Weber applied for a grant for the expansion of the laboratory to the Styrian government (22.3. 1976). Permission was granted on 20.04.1976.

Due to the huge support by the head of the bursary, office director Wasle, and the whole department and project staff, the expansion could be carried out swiftly. On 2.05.1977, the laboratory was officially inaugurated by the president of the Styrian parliament, Prof. Dr. Hans Koren, in presence of rector Prof. Dr. A. Oberhofer and Prof. Dr. F. Steinhauser from the Austrian Academy of Sciences, mayor A. Dulzky, landlord Dipl.-Ing. Goess-Saurau, president of the state office Dr. Tropper as well as federal councillor Ms. Heinz. The rooms and instrumentation were successively adapted and expanded. With the signing of the sale contract between the municipality and the Republic of Austria in 1991, the Laboratory Gams and the corresponding ground area became an integral part of the Montanuniversität Leoben.

The expansion of equipment was virtually exclusively carried out with investment funds from research projects at the Austrian Science Fund (FWF), the Jubilee Fond of the Austrian National Bank (JF), the International Correlation Programme (IGCP) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences as well as projects of the European Union. Especially the successful participation in four 3-4-year research areas enabled the quick expansion and establishment of the laboratory in the European research landscape. Numerous individual projects completed the research areas as well as the equipment modifications. The standard of the laboratory absolutely meets international standard and constitutes an important node in the European Network, as documented by the regular stays of visiting researchers from abroad. Matters of geodynamics, mineral magnetics and magnetostratigraphy, the history of the geomagnetic field and archaeomagnetics as well as environmental magnetics are the main fields of research. The laboratory was headed by Prof. Dr. H.J. Mauritsch until 2001 and since then by Prof. Dr. R. Scholger. The fields of archaeomagnetics and history of the geomagnetic field are supervised by Ms. PD. Dr. E. Schnepp.