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On average several times a million years the magnetic field of the Earth changes direction. By changing the polarity, the north becomes south and vice versa. During the formation of mainly igneous rock, the direction of the local magnetic field is fixed permanently in the rock by the magnetic minerals. The paleo magnetism can be studied by measuring the orientation of the magnetic field of these minerals.

By determining in the direction of the paleomagnetism of rocks in combination with dating the rocks, a reconstruction can be made of the location and orientation of tectonic plates in the geological past.

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