Vernier Software and Technology
Vernier Software & Technology

Searching for Iron Ore

Figure from experiment 4 from Earth Science with Vernier


The element iron is found in many metals you see every day. It is often combined with other elements to make very strong and rust-resistant metal alloys. To make steel, carbon is added to iron to increase its strength. Chromium can be added to iron to make stainless steel which is resistant to corrosion.

Most natural iron deposits are in the form of iron ores such as hematite and magnetite. These iron ore formations were deposited between 1.8 and 2.6 billion years ago. While they are sometimes found at the surface, many are located underground making them more difficult to find. Most iron ores are ferromagnetic, meaning they are attracted to magnets and can become magnets themselves when placed in a magnetic field. Over time, the Earth’s magnetic field has magnetized these ancient iron ore formations. This unique characteristic allows geologists to locate iron ore formations with a magnetometer, an instrument that measures magnetic field strength. As the magnetometer passes over the surface of the Earth, an iron ore formation will show up as a magnetic disturbance similar to the pattern a magnet would make. This not only locates the iron ore formation, but gives a good estimate of its size as well.

In Part I of this experiment, you will use a Magnetic Field Sensor to investigate the magnetic pattern made by a sample iron ore formation represented by a magnetized washer. In Part 2, you will use a Magnetic Field Sensor to scan a model search area for a buried iron ore formation. The buried formation will show up with a magnetic pattern similar to the sample in Part I.


In this experiment, you will

  • Use a Magnetic Field Sensor to map the magnetic field of a sample iron ore formation.
  • Use a Magnetic Field Sensor locate a buried iron ore formation.
  • Explain your results.

Sensors and Equipment

This experiment features the following Vernier sensors and equipment.

Additional Requirements

You may also need an interface and software for data collection. What do I need for data collection?

Standards Correlations

See all standards correlations for Earth Science with Vernier »

Earth Science with Vernier

See other experiments from the lab book.

1Introduction to Data Collection
2Exploring Magnetism
3Where IS North?
4Searching for Iron Ore
5Sea Floor Spreading
6Soil pH
7Soil Salinity
8Soil and Acid Rain
9Soil Temperature
13Total Dissolved Solids
14Water Treatment
15Salinity of Ocean Water
16Acid Rain and Its Effect on Surface Water
17Freezing of Ocean Water
19Mapping the Ocean Floor
20Are All Sunglasses Created Equal?
21Comparing Sunscreens
22UV Light and Clothing
23Reflection and Absorption of Light
24The Greenhouse Effect
25Land and Sea Breezes
26Relative Humidity
27Dew Point
28Wind Chill
29Seasons and Angle of Insolation
30Fossil Fuels
31Solar Homes
32Photovoltaic Cells
33Wind Power
P1Air Temperature
P2Air Temperature and Relative Humidity
P3Ground Temperature
P4Barometric Pressure
P5Measuring Particulates
P6Weather Stations

Experiment 4 from Earth Science with Vernier Lab Book

<em>Earth Science with Vernier</em> book cover

Included in the Lab Book

Vernier lab books include word-processing files of the student instructions, essential teacher information, suggested answers, sample data and graphs, and more.

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Dev Reference: VST0109

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