The time-averaged geomagnetic field: global and regional biases for 0-5 Ma

Johnson, CL, Constable CG.  1997.  The time-averaged geomagnetic field: global and regional biases for 0-5 Ma. Geophysical Journal International. 131:643-+.

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anomalies, core-mantle boundary, dynamo, earths magnetic-field, geomagnetism, inner-core, lava flows, palaeomagnetism, paleomagnetic field, reversals, secular variation, time-averaged field, velocity structure


Palaeodirectional data from lava flows and marine sediments provide information about the long-term structure and variability in the geomagnetic held. We present a detailed analysis of the internal consistency and reliability of global compilations of sediment and lava-flow data. Time-averaged field models are constructed for normal and reverse polarity periods for the past 5 Ma, using the combined data sets. Non-zonal models are required to satisfy the lava-flow data, but not those from sediments alone. This is in part because the sediment data are much noisier than those from lavas, but is also a consequence of the site distributions and the way that inclination data sample the geomagnetic field generated in the Earth's core. Different average held configurations for normal and reverse polarity periods are consistent with the palaeomagnetic directions; however, the differences are insignificant relative to the uncertainty in the average field models. Thus previous inferences of non-antipodal normal and reverse polarity field geometries will need to be re-examined using recently collected high-quality palaeomagnetic data. Our new models indicate that current global sediment and lava-flow data sets combined do not permit the unambiguous detection of northern hemisphere flux lobes in the 0-5 Ma time-averaged field, highlighting the need for the collection of additional high-latitude palaeomagnetic data. Anomalous time-averaged held structure is seen in the Pacific hemisphere centred just south of Hawaii. The location of the anomaly coincides with heterogeneities in the lower mantle inferred from seismological data. The seismic observations can be partly explained by lateral temperature variations; however, they also suggest the presence of lateral compositional variations and/or the presence of partial melt. The role of such heterogeneities in influencing the geomagnetic held observed at the Earth's surface remains an unresolved issue, requiring higher-resolution time-averaged geomagnetic field models, along with the integration of future results from seismology, mineral physics and numerical simulations.