Link Between Geomagnetic Reversal Paths And Secular Variation Of The Field Over The Past 5 MY

Citation:
Constable, C.  1992.  Link Between Geomagnetic Reversal Paths And Secular Variation Of The Field Over The Past 5 MY. Nature. 358:230-233.

Date Published:

Jul

Keywords:

averaged paleomagnetic field, dynamo, polarity transition

Abstract:

PALAEOMAGNETIC records provide information about the behaviour of the geomagnetic field during reversals1,2. Existing records are incompatible with transitional field configurations that are either entirely dipolar or entirely zonal (dependent only on latitude)3,4. Recent compilations5-8 have indicated that the transitional paths of virtual geomagnetic poles (VGPs) for the past few reversals are located preferentially within two antipodal longitudinal bands, suggesting that simple but non-zonal field configurations dominate during reversals. Here I point out that one of the longitudinal bands coincides with that expected from the reversal of a non-axial-dipole field exactly like that present today; the other requires only a sign change in the non-axial-dipole terms of today's field. Evidence for persistent non-zonal contributions to the field has generally9-13 (but not always14,15) been regarded as not statistically significant in the light of poor data distributions. I show here that a non-zonal bias, similar to that observed in reversal data, is evident in data on secular variation of the field over the past 5 Myr, even after normalization according to site locations. These results suggest that the time-averaged field does indeed contain persistent (but not constant) non-zonal contributions.

Notes:

n/a

Website

DOI:

10.1038/358230a0