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Avery, MS, Gee JS, Constable CG.  2017.  Asymmetry in growth and decay of the geomagnetic dipole revealed in seafloor magnetization. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 467:79-88.   10.1016/j.epsl.2017.03.020   AbstractWebsite

Geomagnetic intensity fluctuations provide important constraints on time-scales associated with dynamical processes in the outer core. PADM2M is a reconstructed time series of the 0-2 Ma axial dipole moment (ADM). After smoothing to reject high frequency variations PADM2M's average growth rate is larger than its decay rate. The observed asymmetry in rates of change is compatible with longer term diffusive decay of the ADM balanced by advective growth on shorter time scales, and provides a potentially useful diagnostic for evaluating numerical geodynamo simulations. We re-analyze the PADM2M record using improved low-pass filtering to identify asymmetry and quantify its uncertainty via bootstrap methods before applying the new methodology to other kinds of records. Asymmetry in distribution of axial dipole moment derivatives is quantified using the geomagnetic skewness coefficient, sg. A positive value indicates the distribution has a longer positive tail and the average growth rate is greater than the average decay rate. The original asymmetry noted by Ziegler and Constable (2011) is significant and does not depend on the specifics of the analysis. A long-term record of geomagnetic intensity should also be preserved in the thermoremanent magnetization of oceanic crust recovered by inversion of stacked profiles of marine magnetic anomalies. These provide an independent means of verifying the asymmetry seen in PADM2M. We examine three near bottom surveys: a 0 to 780 ka record from the East Pacific Rise at 19 degrees S, a 0 to 5.2 Ma record from the Pacific Antarctic Ridge at 51 degrees S, and a chron C4Ar-C5r (9.3-11.2 Ma) record from the NE Pacific. All three records show an asymmetry similar in sense to PADM2M with geomagnetic skewness coefficients, s(g) > 0. Results from PADM2M and C4Ar-C5r are most robust, reflecting the higher quality of these geomagnetic records. Our results confirm that marine magnetic anomalies can carry a record of the asymmetric geomagnetic field behavior first found for 0-2 Ma in PADM2M, and show that it was also present during the earlier time interval from 9.3-11.2 Ma. (C) 2017 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V.

Davies, C, Constable C.  2017.  Geomagnetic spikes on the core-mantle boundary. Nature Communications. 8   10.1038/ncomms15593   AbstractWebsite

Extreme variations of Earth's magnetic field occurred in the Levant region around 1000 BC, when the field intensity rapidly rose and fell by a factor of 2. No coherent link currently exists between this intensity spike and the global field produced by the core geodynamo. Here we show that the Levantine spike must span >60 degrees longitude at Earth's surface if it originates from the core-mantle boundary (CMB). Several low intensity data are incompatible with this geometric bound, though age uncertainties suggest these data could have sampled the field before the spike emerged. Models that best satisfy energetic and geometric constraints produce CMB spikes 8-22 degrees wide, peaking at O(100) mT. We suggest that the Levantine spike reflects an intense CMB flux patch that grew in place before migrating northwest, contributing to growth of the dipole field. Estimates of Ohmic heating suggest that diffusive processes likely govern the ultimate decay of geomagnetic spikes.

Constable, C, Korte M, Panovska S.  2016.  Persistent high paleosecular variation activity in southern hemisphere for at least 10,000 years. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 453:78-86.   10.1016/j.epsl.2016.08.015   AbstractWebsite

Direct observations of the geomagnetic field show that secular variation is strong in the Atlantic hemisphere, and comparatively reduced in the Pacific region. The dipole has been decaying since at least 1840 AD, driven by growth and migration of reverse flux patches in the southern hemisphere. We investigate whether anything like this modern pattern of geomagnetic secular variation persists and can be detected in global paleomagnetic field models. Synthesis of results from two new time-varying spherical harmonic models shows that geographically distinct geomagnetic secular variation extends to at least 10000 BP. The models use the same database but differ in methodology, leading to some regional differences in results. Consistent large-scale surface features include strong average fields in the northern hemisphere and weaker fields with greater overall variability in the south. Longitudinal structure is present, with weaker average fields in the western Pacific than in the east, and prominent negative inclination anomalies extending beneath Indonesia, across Africa and to Brazil, but weaker anomalies in the central Pacific. Marginally positive inclination anomalies occur west of the Americas. Paleosecular variation activity peaks at high southern latitudes, and there is a pattern of reduced activity at equatorial and mid-latitudes beneath the Pacific. Although the dipole has exhibited both growth and decay over the interval 0-10 000 BP, our results show that geomagnetic paleosecular variation is preferentially focused in similar geographic regions to secular variation seen in the modern field. (C) 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V.

Tauxe, L, Shaar R, Jonestrask L, Swanson-Hysell NL, Minnett R, Koppers AAP, Constable CG, Jarboe N, Gaastra K, Fairchild L.  2016.  PmagPy: Software package for paleomagnetic data analysis and a bridge to the Magnetics Information Consortium (MagIC) Database. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems. 17:2450-2463.   10.1002/2016GC006307   Abstract

The Magnetics Information Consortium (MagIC) database provides an archive with a flexible data model for paleomagnetic and rock magnetic data. The PmagPy software package is a cross-platform and open-source set of tools written in Python for the analysis of paleomagnetic data that serves as one interface to MagIC, accommodating various levels of user expertise. PmagPy facilitates thorough documentation of sampling, measurements, data sets, visualization, and interpretation of paleomagnetic and rock magnetic experimental data. Although not the only route into the MagIC database, PmagPy makes preparation of newly published data sets for contribution to MagIC as a byproduct of normal data analysis and allows manipulation as well as reanalysis of data sets downloaded from MagIC with a single software package. The graphical user interface (GUI), Pmag GUI enables use of much of PmagPy's functionality, but the full capabilities of PmagPy extend well beyond that. Over 400 programs and functions can be called from the command line interface mode, or from within the interactive Jupyter notebooks. Use of PmagPy within a notebook allows for documentation of the workflow from the laboratory to the production of each published figure or data table, making research results fully reproducible. The PmagPy design and its development using GitHub accommodates extensions to its capabilities through development of new tools by the user community. Here we describe the PmagPy software package and illustrate the power of data discovery and reuse through a reanalysis of published paleointensity data which illustrates how the effectiveness of selection criteria can be tested.

Constable, C.  2016.  Earth's electromagnetic environment. Surveys in Geophysics. 37:27-45.   10.1007/s10712-015-9351-1   AbstractWebsite

The natural spectrum of electromagnetic variations surrounding Earth extends across an enormous frequency range and is controlled by diverse physical processes. Electromagnetic (EM) induction studies make use of external field variations with frequencies ranging from the solar cycle which has been used for geomagnetic depth sounding through the 10-10 Hz frequency band widely used for magnetotelluric and audio-magnetotelluric studies. Above 10 Hz, the EM spectrum is dominated by man-made signals. This review emphasizes electromagnetic sources at 1 Hz and higher, describing major differences in physical origin and structure of short- and long-period signals. The essential role of Earth's internal magnetic field in defining the magnetosphere through its interactions with the solar wind and interplanetary magnetic field is briefly outlined. At its lower boundary, the magnetosphere is engaged in two-way interactions with the underlying ionosphere and neutral atmosphere. Extremely low-frequency (3 Hz-3 kHz) electromagnetic signals are generated in the form of sferics, lightning, and whistlers which can extend to frequencies as high as the VLF range (3-30 kHz).The roughly spherical dielectric cavity bounded by the ground and the ionosphere produces the Schumann resonance at around 8 Hz and its harmonics. A transverse resonance also occurs at 1.7-2.0 kHz arising from reflection off the variable height lower boundary of the ionosphere and exhibiting line splitting due to three-dimensional structure. Ground and satellite observations are discussed in the light of their contributions to understanding the global electric circuit and for EM induction studies.

Ziegler, LB, Constable CG.  2015.  Testing the geocentric axial dipole hypothesis using regional paleomagnetic intensity records from 0 to 300 ka. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 423:48-56.   10.1016/j.epsl.2015.04.022   AbstractWebsite

Absolute and relative geomagnetic paleointensity records reveal variations in geomagnetic dipole strength, either via averaging time series of virtual axial dipole moments, or through formal inversion strategies like the penalized maximum likelihood (PML) method used for the PADM2M (Paleomagnetic Axial Dipole Moment for 0-2 Ma) model. However, departures from the most basic geocentric axial dipole (GAD) structure are obvious on centennial to millennial time scales, and paleomagnetic records from igneous rocks suggest small deviations persist on million year time scales. Spatial variations in heat flow at the core-mantle boundary (inferred from large low shear velocity provinces, LLSVPs) are widely suspected to influence both the average geomagnetic field and its regional secular variation. Long term departures from a GAD configuration should be visible from regional differences in paleointensity reconstructions. We use a PML method to construct time-varying models of regional axial dipole moment (RADMs) from a combined set of absolute and relative palebintensity data, and compare results from the last 300 kyr. RADMs are created from sediment records selected from specific latitude and longitude bands. We also test whether grouping records lying above each of the 2 major LLSVPs (centered on Africa and the Pacific) produce RADMs that are distinct from those above regions lacking anomalous seismic structure. Systematic differences appear in the various regional results. In the most recent part of the record regional differences are broadly similar to the Holocene, CALS10k.1b, time-varying geomagnetic field model spanning 0-10 ka. However, lack of Southern hemisphere records prevents direct confirmation of the hemispheric asymmetry present in CALS10k.1b in both average virtual axial dipole moment and its variability. As expected, the 300 kyr RADMs exhibit greater overall temporal field variability than is seen over 0-10 ka. Average RADM is higher in the Pacific and in Equatorial regions than in the Atlantic and in mid-high latitude northern hemisphere regions. Higher average RADMs are associated with lower overall field variability and less pronounced excursional signatures. Notably, the lower variability in the Pacific sector seen here (defined by either longitude band or LLSVP location) suggests that the modern low paleosecular variation there extends over at least the past few hundred thousand years. RADMs identified with LLSVPs show systematic deviations from the non-LLSVP group of records, with distinct characteristics for the African and Pacific provinces. The African LLSVP generates more pronounced RADM minima associated with geomagnetic excursions, and in general paleointensity decreases associated with excursions occur first in the Atlantic longitude sector and over the African LLSVP. (C) 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Panovska, S, Korte M, Finlay CC, Constable CG.  2015.  Limitations in paleomagnetic data and modelling techniques and their impact on Holocene geomagnetic field models. Geophysical Journal International. 202:402-418.   10.1093/gji/ggv137   AbstractWebsite

Characterization of geomagnetic field behaviour on timescales of centuries to millennia is necessary to understand the mechanisms that sustain the geodynamo and drive its evolution. As Holocene paleomagnetic and archeomagnetic data have become more abundant, strategies for regularized inversion of modern field data have been adapted to produce numerous time-varying global field models. We evaluate the effectiveness of several approaches to inversion and data handling, by assessing both global and regional properties of the resulting models. Global Holocene field models cannot resolve Southern hemisphere regional field variations without the use of sediments. A standard data set is used to construct multiple models using two different strategies for relative paleointensity calibration and declination orientation and a selection of starting models in the inversion procedure. When data uncertainties are considered, the results are similar overall regardless of whether we use iterative calibration and reorientation, or co-estimation of the calibration and orientation parameters as part of the inversion procedure. In each case the quality of the starting model used for initial relative paleointensity calibration and declination orientation is crucial and must be based on the best absolute information available. Without adequate initial calibration the morphology of dipole moment variations can be recovered but its absolute value will be correlated with the initial intensity calibrations, an effect that might be mitigated by ensuring an appropriate fit to enough high quality absolute intensity data with low uncertainties. The declination reorientation mainly impacts regional field structure and in the presence of non-zonal fields will result in a non-zero local average. The importance of declination orientation is highlighted by inconsistencies in the West Pacific and Australian sediment records in CALS10k.1b model. Great care must also be taken to assess uncertainties associated with both paleomagnetic and age data and to evaluate the effects of poor data distribution. New consistently allocated uncertainty estimates for sediment paleomagnetic records highlight the importance of adequate uncertainties in the inversion process, as they determine the relative weighting among the data and overall normalized misfit levels which in turn influence the complexity of the inferred field models. Residual distributions suggest that the most appropriate misfit measure is the L-1 norm (minimum absolute deviation) rather than L-2 (least squares), but this seems to have relatively minor impact on the overall results. For future Holocene field modelling we see a need for comprehensive methods to assess uncertainty in individual archeomagnetic data so that these data or models derived from them can be used for reliable initial relative paleointensity calibration and declination orientation in sediments. More work will be needed to assess whether co-estimation or an iterative approach to inversion is more efficient overall. This would be facilitated by realistic and globally consistent data and age uncertainties from the paleomagnetic community.

Brown, MC, Donadini F, Korte M, Nilsson A, Korhonen K, Lodge A, Lengyel SN, Constable CG.  2015.  GEOMAGIA50.v3: 1. general structure and modifications to the archeological and volcanic database. Earth Planets and Space. 67:1-31.   10.1186/s40623-015-0232-0   AbstractWebsite

Background: GEOMAGIA50.v3 is a comprehensive online database providing access to published paleomagnetic, rock magnetic, and chronological data from a variety of materials that record Earth's magnetic field over the past 50 ka. Findings: Since its original release in 2006, the structure and function of the database have been updated and a significant number of data have been added. Notable modifications are the following: (1) the inclusion of additional intensity, directional and metadata from archeological and volcanic materials and an improved documentation of radiocarbon dates; (2) a new data model to accommodate paleomagnetic, rock magnetic, and chronological data from lake and marine sediments; (3) a refinement of the geographic constraints in the archeomagnetic/volcanic query allowing selection of particular locations; (4) more flexible methodological and statistical constraints in the archeomagnetic/volcanic query; (5) the calculation of predictions of the Holocene geomagnetic field from a series of time varying global field models; (6) searchable reference lists; and (7) an updated web interface. This paper describes general modifications to the database and specific aspects of the archeomagnetic and volcanic database. The reader is referred to a companion publication for a description of the sediment database. Conclusions: The archeomagnetic and volcanic part of GEOMAGIA50.v3 currently contains 14,645 data (declination, inclination, and paleointensity) from 461 studies published between 1959 and 2014. We review the paleomagnetic methods used to obtain these data and discuss applications of the data within the database. The database continues to expand as legacy data are added and new studies published. The web-based interface can be found at

Brown, MC, Donadini F, Nilsson A, Panovska S, Frank U, Korhonen K, Schuberth M, Korte M, Constable CG.  2015.  GEOMAGIA50.v3: 2. A new paleomagnetic database for lake and marine sediments. Earth Planets and Space. 67   10.1186/s40623-015-0233-z   AbstractWebsite

Background: GEOMAGIA50.v3 for sediments is a comprehensive online database providing access to published paleomagnetic, rock magnetic, and chronological data obtained from lake and marine sediments deposited over the past 50 ka. Its objective is to catalogue data that will improve our understanding of changes in the geomagnetic field, physical environments, and climate. Findings: GEOMAGIA50.v3 for sediments builds upon the structure of the pre-existing GEOMAGIA50 database for magnetic data from archeological and volcanic materials. A strong emphasis has been placed on the storage of geochronological data, and it is the first magnetic archive that includes comprehensive radiocarbon age data from sediments. The database will be updated as new sediment data become available. Conclusions: The web-based interface for the sediment database is located at This paper is a companion to Brown et al. (Earth Planets Space doi:10.1186/s40623-015-0232-0,2015) and describes the data types, structure, and functionality of the sediment database.

Davies, CJ, Constable CG.  2014.  Insights from geodynamo simulations into long-term geomagnetic field behaviour. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 404:238-249.   10.1016/j.epsl.2014.07.042   AbstractWebsite

Detailed knowledge of the long-term spatial configuration and temporal variability of the geomagnetic field is lacking because of insufficient data for times prior to 10 ka. We use realisations from suitable numerical simulations to investigate three important questions about stability of the geodynamo process: is the present field representative of the past field; does a time-averaged field actually exist; and, supposing it exists, how long is needed to define such a field. Numerical geodynamo simulations are initially selected to meet existing criteria for morphological similarity to the observed magnetic field. A further criterion is introduced to evaluate similarity of long-term temporal variations. Allowing for reasonable uncertainties in the observations, observed and synthetic axial dipole moment frequency spectra for time series of order a million years in length should be fit by the same power law model. This leads us to identify diffusion time as the appropriate time scaling for such comparisons. In almost all simulations, intervals considered to have good morphological agreement between synthetic and observed field are shorter than those of poor agreement. The time needed to obtain a converged estimate of the time-averaged field was found to be comparable to the length of the simulation, even in non-reversing models, suggesting that periods of stable polarity spanning many magnetic diffusion times are needed to obtain robust estimates of the mean dipole field. Long term field variations are almost entirely attributable to the axial dipole; nonzonal components converge to long-term average values on relatively short timescales (15-20 kyr). In all simulations, the time-averaged spatial power spectrum is characterised by a zigzag pattern as a function of spherical harmonic degree, with relatively higher power in odd degrees than in even degrees. We suggest that long-term spatial characteristics of the observed field may emerge on averaging times that are within reach for the next generation of global time-varying paleomagnetic field models. (C) 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Cromwell, G, Constable CG, Staudigel H, Tauxe L, Gans P.  2013.  Revised and updated paleomagnetic results from Costa Rica. Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems. 14:3379-3388.   10.1002/ggge.20199   AbstractWebsite

Paleomagnetic results from globally distributed lava flows have been collected and analyzed under the time-averaged field initiative (TAFI), a multi-institutional collaboration started in 1996 and designed to improve the geographic and temporal coverage of the 0-5 Ma paleomagnetic database for studying both the time-averaged field and its very long-term secular variations. Paleomagnetic samples were collected from 35 volcanic units, either lava flows or ignimbrites, in Costa Rica in December 1998 and February 2000 from the Cordilleras Central and Guanacaste, the underlying Canas, Liberia and Bagaces formations and from Volcano Arenal. Age estimates range from approximately 40 ka to slightly over 6 Ma. Although initial results from these sites were used in a global synthesis of TAFI data by Johnson et al. (2008), a full description of methodology was not presented. This paper documents the definitive collection of results comprising 28 paleomagnetic directions (24 normal, 4 reversed), with enhanced precision and new geological interpretations, adding two paleointensity estimates and 19 correlated Ar-40/Ar-39 radiometric ages. The average field direction is consistent with that of a geocentric axial dipole and dispersion of virtual geomagnetic poles (17.34.6 degrees) is in general agreement with predictions from several statistical paleosecular variation models. Paleointensity estimates from two sites give an average field strength of 26.3 T and a virtual axial dipole moment of 65 ZAm(2). The definitive results provide a useful augmentation of the global database for the longer term goal of developing new statistical descriptions of paleomagnetic field behavior.

Cromwell, G, Tauxe L, Staudigel H, Constable CG, Koppers AAP, Pedersen RB.  2013.  In search of long-term hemispheric asymmetry in the geomagnetic field : Results from high northern latitudes. Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems. 14:3234-3249.   10.1002/ggge.20174   AbstractWebsite

Investigations of the behavior of the geomagnetic field on geological timescales rely on globally distributed data sets from dated lava flows. We present the first suitable data from the Arctic region, comprising 37 paleomagnetic directions from Jan Mayen (71 degrees N, 0.2-461 ka) and Spitsbergen (79 degrees N, 1-9.2 Ma) and five paleointensity results. Dispersion of the Arctic virtual geomagnetic poles over the last 2 Ma (27.34.0 degrees) is significantly lower than that from published Antarctic data sets (32.15.0 degrees). Arctic average virtual axial dipole moment (76.824.3 ZAm(2)) is high in comparison to Antarctica over the same time interval (34.88.2 ZAm(2)), although the data are still too sparse in the Arctic to be definitive. These data support a long-lived hemispheric asymmetry of the magnetic field, contrasting higher, more stable fields in the north with lower average strength and more variable field directions in the south. Such features require significant non-axial-dipole contributions over 10(5)-10(6) years.

Buffett, BA, Ziegler L, Constable CG.  2013.  A stochastic model for palaeomagnetic field variations. Geophysical Journal International. 195:86-97.   10.1093/gji/ggt218   AbstractWebsite

Regeneration of the Earth's magnetic field by convection in the liquid core produces a broad spectrum of time variation. Relative palaeointensity measurements in marine sediments provide a detailed record over the past 2 Myr, but an explicit reconstruction of the underlying dynamics is not feasible. A more practical alternative is to construct a stochastic model from estimates of the virtual axial dipole moment. The deterministic part of the model (drift term) describes time-averaged behaviour, whereas the random part (diffusion term) characterizes complex interactions over convective timescales. We recover estimates of the drift and diffusion terms from the SINT2000 model of Valet et al. and the PADM2M model of Ziegler et al. The results are used in numerical solutions of the Fokker-Planck equation to predict statistical properties of the palaeomagnetic field, including the average rates of magnetic reversals and excursions. A physical interpretation of the stochastic model suggests that the timescale for adjustments in the axial dipole moment is set by the dipole decay time tau(d). We obtain tau(d) = 29 kyr from the stochastic models, which falls within the expected range for the Earth's core. We also predict the amplitude of convective fluctuations in the core, and establish a physical connection to the rates of magnetic reversals and excursions. Chrons lasting longer than 10 Myr are unlikely under present-day conditions. However, long chrons become more likely if the diffusion term is reduced by a factor of 2. Such a change is accomplished by reducing the velocity fluctuations in the core by a factor of root 2, which could be attributed to a shift in the spatial pattern of heat flux from the core or a reduction in the total core heat flow.

Smith-Boughner, LT, Constable CG.  2012.  Spectral estimation for geophysical time-series with inconvenient gaps. Geophysical Journal International. 190:1404-1422.   10.1111/j.1365-246X.2012.05594.x   AbstractWebsite

The power of spectral estimation as a tool for studying geophysical processes is often limited by short records or breaks in available time-series. Direct spectral estimation using multitaper techniques designed to reduce variance and minimize leakage can help alleviate the first problem. For records with gaps, systematic interpolation or averaging of multitaper spectra derived from record fragments may prove adequate in some cases, but can be cumbersome to implement. Alternatively, multitapers can be modified for use in direct spectral estimation with intermittently sampled data. However, their performance has not been adequately studied. We investigate reliability and resolution of techniques that adapt prolate and minimum bias (MB) multitapers to accommodate the longest breaks in sampling, comparing the tapering functions (referred to as PRG or MBG tapers) with the standard prolate and MB tapers used for complete data series, and with the section-averaging approach. Using a synthetic data set, we test both jackknife and bootstrap methods to calculate confidence intervals for PRG and MBG multitaper spectral estimates and find the jackknife is both more accurate and faster to compute. To implement these techniques for a variety of data sets, we provide an algorithm that allows the user to balance judicious interpolation against the use of suitably adapted tapers, providing empirical measures of both bias and frequency resolution for candidate sets of tapers. These techniques are tested on diverse geophysical data sets: a record of change in the length of day, a model of the external dipole part of the geomagnetic field produced by the magnetospheric ring current, and a 12 Myr long irregularly sampled relative geomagnetic palaeointensity record with pernicious gaps. We conclude that both PRG and MBG tapers generally perform as well as, or better than, an optimized form of the commonly used section averaging approach. The greatest improvements seem to occur when the gap structure creates data segments of very unequal lengths. Ease of computation and more robust behaviour can make MBG tapers a better choice than PRG except when very fine-scale frequency resolution is required. These techniques could readily be applied for cross-spectral and transfer function estimation and are a useful addition to the geophysical toolbox.

Ribaudo, JT, Constable CG, Parker RL.  2012.  Scripted finite element tools for global electromagnetic induction studies. Geophysical Journal International. 188:435-446.   10.1111/j.1365-246X.2011.05255.x   AbstractWebsite

Numerical solution of global geomagnetic induction problems in two and three spatial dimensions can be conducted with commercially available, general-purpose, scripted, finite-element software. We show that FlexPDE is capable of solving a variety of global geomagnetic induction problems. The models treated can include arbitrary electrical conductivity of the core and mantle, arbitrary spatial structure and time behaviour of the primary magnetic field. A thin surface layer of laterally heterogeneous conductivity, representing the oceans and crust, may be represented by a boundary condition at the Earthspace interface. We describe a numerical test, or validation, of the program by comparing its output to analytic and semi-analytic solutions for several electromagnetic induction problems: (1) concentric spherical shells representing a layered Earth in a time-varying, uniform, external magnetic field, (2) eccentrically nested conductive spheres in the same field and (3) homogeneous spheres or cylinders, initially at rest, then rotating at a steady rate in a constant, uniform, external field. Calculations are performed in both the time and frequency domains, and in both 2-D and 3-D computational meshes, with adaptive mesh refinement. Root-mean-square accuracies of better than 1 per cent are achieved in all cases. A unique advantage of our technique is the ability to model Earth rotation in both the time and the frequency domain, which is especially useful for simulating satellite data.

Smith-Boughner, LT, Ziegler LB, Constable CG.  2011.  Changing spectrum of geomagnetic intensity variations in a fragmented 12 My sediment record from the Oligocene. Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors. 188:260-269.   10.1016/j.pepi.2011.07.011   AbstractWebsite

Time series of relative geomagnetic paleointensity variations derived from marine sediments can be calibrated using absolute data derived from igneous materials. The resulting records may be suitable for spectral analysis of geomagnetic dipole variations. This work re-evaluates the 12 My (22.74-34.77 Ma) sediment record from Deep Sea Drilling Project Leg 73, Site 522, that is a key data set for determining the paleomagnetic power spectrum in the frequency range 1-100 My(-1). The 12 My record is marred by uneven sampling, with the interval between samples ranging from 1 to 640 ky, and contains several gaps that are considered too long to interpolate. The relative intensity data are calibrated using 129 globally distributed absolute paleointensity data from the same time interval. The power spectrum of the resulting time series is estimated using direct multi-taper spectral estimation with prolate data tapers adapted to deal with missing sections in the time series. The longest record available for analysis is thereby extended from 5.3 to 12 My. The new paleomagnetic power spectrum confirms the presence of a broad spectral peak at around 8 My(-1) for the early Oligocene and uncovers a peak around 2.5 My(-1) in the late Oligocene. Both peaks may be linked to tiny wiggles in marine magnetic anomalies. The new analysis unambiguously verifies that there is lower overall power in the younger part of the record, where the reversal process appears to dominate the power spectrum of the paleosecular variation. A comparison of the late Oligocene spectrum with that of PADM2M, a model of paleomagnetic axial dipole variations for 0-2 Ma, reveals some broad similarities; both time periods have similar power levels and a reversal rate of 4 My(-1). During the early Oligocene the reversal rate is about a factor of two lower, the field strength is higher, and the secular variation is stronger, suggesting that a strong magnetic field inhibits reversals but produces more variability in field strength. (C) 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Korte, M, Constable C.  2011.  Improving geomagnetic field reconstructions for 0-3 ka. Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors. 188:247-259.   10.1016/j.pepi.2011.06.017   AbstractWebsite

Global geomagnetic field reconstructions on millennial time scales can be based on comprehensive paleomagnetic data compilations but, especially for older data, these still suffer from limitations in data quality and age controls as well as poor temporal and spatial coverage. Here we present updated global models for the time interval 0-3 ka where additions to the data basis mainly impact the South-East Asian, Alaskan, and Siberian regions. We summarize recent progress in millennial scale modelling, documenting the cumulative results from incremental modifications to the standard algorithms used to produce regularized time-varying spherical harmonic models spanning 1000 BC to 1990 AD: from 1590 to 1990 AD gauss coefficients from the historical gufm1 model supplement the paleomagnetic information; in addition to absolute paleointensities, calibrated relative paleointensity data from sediments are now routinely included; iterative data rejection and recalibration of relative intensity records from sediments ensure stable results; bootstrap experiments to generate uncertainty estimates for the model take account of uncertainties in both age and magnetic elements and additionally assess the impact of sampling in both time and space. Based on averaged results from bootstrap experiments, taking account of data and age uncertainties, we distinguish more conservative model estimates CALS3k.nb representing robust field structure at the core-mantle boundary from relatively high resolution models CALS3k.n for model versions n = 3 and 4. We assess the impact of newly available data and modifications to the modelling method by comparing the previous CALS3k.3, the new CALS3k.4, and the conservative new model, CALS3k.4b. We conclude that with presently available data it is not feasible to produce a model that is equally suitable for relatively high-resolution field predictions at Earth's surface and robust reconstruction of field evolution, avoiding spurious structure, at the core-mantle boundary (CMB). We presently consider CALS3k.4 the best high resolution model and recommend the more conservative lower resolution version for studies of field evolution at the CMB. (C) 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Ziegler, LB, Constable CG, Johnson CL, Tauxe L.  2011.  PADM2M: a penalized maximum likelihood model of the 0-2 Ma palaeomagnetic axial dipole moment. Geophysical Journal International. 184:1069-1089.   10.1111/j.1365-246X.2010.04905.x   AbstractWebsite

P>We present a new time-varying model for palaeomagnetic axial dipole moment (PADM) for the past 2 Myr and compare it with earlier virtual axial dipole moment (VADM) reconstructions which have been based on stacking and averaging scaled relative palaeointensity records. The PADM is derived from both absolute and relative palaeointensity data and constructed using a new penalized maximum likelihood (PML) approach to recover a cubic B-spline representation of axial-dipole field variations on million year timescales. The PML method is explicitly intended to reduce bias in estimating the true axial dipole moment that arises in average VADM reconstructions. We apply the PML method to a set of 96 032 published data (1800 palaeointensities from igneous rocks, 3300 archaeointensities and 86 relative palaeointensity time-series of variable lengths and resolutions). Two models are discussed: PADM2Mp is a trial model based on a subset of the nine longest available sedimentary records; PADM2M uses a comprehensive data set (76 records, 81 446 data; 10 records were eliminated) and is our preferred model. PADM2M has a lower mean than existing VADM reconstructions but shows similarities in long-period variability. Some differences in timing, amplitude and resolution of certain features can be attributed to variations in age assignments. Others result from our more comprehensive data set and a reduction in bias attributable to PML modelling. PADM2M has an average axial dipole moment over 0-2 Ma of 5.3 x 1022 Am2 with a standard deviation of 1.5 x 1022 Am2. The Brunhes chron average (6.2 x 1022 Am2) is higher than for earlier epochs of Matuyama (4.8 x 1022 Am2), as seen in some previous studies. The power spectrum for our model agrees with previous estimates of the global palaeomagnetic power spectrum for frequencies up to about 102 Myr-1. We see no distinctive evidence in the power spectrum for orbital forcing of geodynamo behaviour.

Ziegler, LB, Constable CG.  2011.  Asymmetry in growth and decay of the geomagnetic dipole. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 312:300-304.   10.1016/j.epsl.2011.10.019   AbstractWebsite

The geodynamo in Earth's core is responsible for magnetic field changes on diverse timescales, including numerous enigmatic reversals of the dipole field polarity. Understanding the physical processes driving them is an active area of investigation via both paleomagnetic work and numerical simulations of the geodynamo. Some previous studies on geomagnetic field intensity detected a sawtooth pattern of intensity around reversals: a gradual decay in field strength preceding a reversal followed by rapid growth afterwards. Here we characterize distinct statistical properties for increasing and decreasing dipole strength over the past two million years. Examining the geomagnetic field and its time derivative on a range of time scales reveals that for periods longer than about 25 ky there is a clear asymmetry in the statistical distributions for growth versus decay rates of the dipole strength. At 36 ky period, average growth rate is about 20% larger than the decay rate, and the field spends 54% of its time decaying, but only 46% growing. These differences are not limited to times when the field is reversing, suggesting that the asymmetry is controlled by fundamental physical processes underlying all paleosecular variation. The longer decay cycle might suggest the possibility of episodic periods of subcritical dynamo activity where the field is dominated by diffusive processes, followed by transient episodes of strong growth of the axial dipole. However, our work finds no clear separation of timescales for the influence of diffusive and convective processes on dipole moment: both seem to play an important but asymmetric role on the 25-150 ky timescale. (C) 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Korte, M, Constable C, Donadini F, Holme R.  2011.  Reconstructing the Holocene geomagnetic field. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 312:497-505.   10.1016/j.epsl.2011.10.031   AbstractWebsite

Knowledge of the Holocene evolution of Earth's magnetic field is important for understanding geodynamo processes in the core, is necessary for studying long-term solar-terrestrial relationships, and can provide useful age constraints for archeologicaland stratigraphic applications. Continuous time-varying global field models based on archeo- and paleomagnetic data are useful tools in this regard. We use a comprehensive data compilation and recently refined modelling strategies to produce CALS10k.1b, the first time-varying spherical harmonic geomagnetic field model spanning 10 ky. The model is an average obtained from bootstrap sampling to take account of uncertainties in magnetic components and ages in the data (and hence has version number 1b instead of 1). This model shows less spatial and temporal resolution than earlier versions for 0-3 ka, and particularly aims to provide a robust representation of the large-scale field at the core-mantle boundary (CMB). We discuss the geomagnetic dipole evolution and changes in Holocene magnetic field morphology at the CMB as shown by the new reconstruction. The results are compatible with earlier models (CALS3k.3 and CALS3k.4) for 0-3 ka, but reveal some clear deficiencies in the 0-7 ka CALS7K.2 model prior to 3 ka. CALS10k.1b is able to resolve mobile and structurally-evolving high latitude radial field flux lobes at the CMB in both hemispheres, as well as persistent non-zonal structure, in the 10 ky average. Contributions to the average field from time-varying structures in the equatorial Indonesian-Australian region are particularly striking. (C) 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Amit, H, Korte M, Aubert J, Constable C, Hulot G.  2011.  The time-dependence of intense archeomagnetic flux patches. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 116   10.1029/2011jb008538   AbstractWebsite

The long-term temporal behavior of intense geomagnetic flux patches at the core-mantle boundary and the relation with lower mantle lateral heterogeneity are under debate. We apply an algorithm to detect centers of intense flux patches and track their time-evolution in a recent archeomagnetic field model in order to study the kinematics of such intense magnetic flux patches on millennial timescale. We find that most intense flux patches appear near the edge of the tangent cylinder. Quasi-stationary periods with small oscillations of patches occur more than drifts. Detailed comparison of the archeomagnetic patches' behavior with that seen in numerical dynamos with tomographic heat flux boundary conditions suggests that core-mantle thermal coupling could be the cause of a statistical preference for some longitudes on the long term, which does not exclude significant time spent away from the preferred longitudes. This could explain the roughly coincident locations of high-latitude patches in the historical geomagnetic field with that of the time-average paleomagnetic field together with the much weaker patches intensity in the latter. Alternating eastward and westward drifts are also observed. The drifts are more westward than eastward, especially in the southern hemisphere, indicating that the time-average zonal core flow may also be driven by core-mantle thermal coupling. An average patch lifetime of similar to 300 years is found, which we hypothesize may indicate the vortex lifetime in the outer core.

Constable, CG.  2011.  Modelling the geomagnetic field from syntheses of paleomagnetic data. Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors. 187:109-117.   10.1016/j.pepi.2011.05.004   AbstractWebsite

This review examines results from time-varying geomagnetic field models that span several thousand years, and from variations in dipole moment strength up to million year time scales. For the past 400 years, twin magnetic flux lobes bordering the inner core tangent cylinder in both northern and southern hemispheres dominate the geomagnetic field and appear more or less fixed in location. In contrast, the millennial scale view shows that such features are quite mobile and subject to morphological changes on time scales of a few centuries to a thousand years, possibly reflecting large scale reorganization of core flow. The lobes rarely venture into the Pacific hemisphere, and average fields over various time scales generally reveal two or three sets of lobes, of diminished amplitude. Thus millennial scale models are suggestive of thermal core-mantle coupling generating a weak bias in the average field rather than a strong inhibition of large scale field changes. The recovery of variations in dipole moment on million year time scales allows frequency domain analyses to search for characteristic time scales for core dynamics that might be associated with excursion and reversal rate, time taken for reversals, or any signs of control by Earth's orbital parameters. The spectrum is characteristically red for the time interval 0-160 Ma, suggesting non-stationarity associated with average reversal rate changes, probably reflecting the impact of superchrons and a continually evolving core. Distinct regimes of power law decay with frequency may reflect different physical processes contributing to the secular variation. Evidence for non-stationarity at shorter time-scales is also present in dipole moment variations over 0-2 Ma with average growth rate faster than the decay process. Rates of change of dipole moment and rapid local field variations found in the paleomagnetic record are evaluated in the context of the 400 year historical record and the spectrum of geomagnetic variations for 0-160 Ma. (C) 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Hulot, G, Finlay CC, Constable CG, Olsen N, Mandea M.  2010.  The Magnetic Field of Planet Earth. Space Science Reviews. 152:159-222.   10.1007/s11214-010-9644-0   AbstractWebsite

The magnetic field of the Earth is by far the best documented magnetic field of all known planets. Considerable progress has been made in our understanding of its characteristics and properties, thanks to the convergence of many different approaches and to the remarkable fact that surface rocks have quietly recorded much of its history. The usefulness of magnetic field charts for navigation and the dedication of a few individuals have also led to the patient construction of some of the longest series of quantitative observations in the history of science. More recently even more systematic observations have been made possible from space, leading to the possibility of observing the Earth's magnetic field in much more details than was previously possible. The progressive increase in computer power was also crucial, leading to advanced ways of handling and analyzing this considerable corpus of data. This possibility, together with the recent development of numerical simulations, has led to the development of a very active field in Earth science. In this paper, we make an attempt to provide an overview of where the scientific community currently stands in terms of observing, interpreting and understanding the past and present behavior of the so-called main magnetic field produced within the Earth's core. The various types of data are introduced and their specific properties explained. The way those data can be used to derive the time evolution of the core field, when this is possible, or statistical information, when no other option is available, is next described. Special care is taken to explain how information derived from each type of data can be patched together into a consistent description of how the core field has been behaving in the past. Interpretations of this behavior, from the shortest (1 yr) to the longest (virtually the age of the Earth) time scales are finally reviewed, underlining the respective roles of the magnetohydodynamics at work in the core, and of the slow dynamic evolution of the planet as a whole.

Donadini, F, Korte M, Constable C.  2010.  Millennial Variations of the Geomagnetic Field: from Data Recovery to Field Reconstruction. Space Science Reviews. 155:219-246.   10.1007/s11214-010-9662-y   AbstractWebsite

Variations of the geomagnetic field over past millennia can be determined from archeomagnetic data and paleomagnetic sediment records. The resolution and validity of any field reconstruction depends on the reliability of such indirect measurements of past field values. Considerable effort is invested to ensure that the magnetic minerals carrying the ancient magnetization are good, if not ideal, recorders of the magnetic field. This is achieved by performing a wide array of rock magnetic and microscopy investigations, many of which are outlined here. In addition to data quality, the spatial and temporal distributions of archeomagnetic and sediment records play a significant role in the accuracy of past field reconstruction. Global field reconstructions enable studies of dynamic processes in Earth's core. They rely on data compilations which ideally include information about the quality of a measurement and provide a useful archive for selecting data with the best characteristics. There is, however, a trade off between the total number of reliable data and the geographic or temporal coverage. In this review we describe the various types of paleomagnetic recorders, and the kind of measurements that are performed to gather reliable geomagnetic field information. We show which modeling strategies are most suitable, and the main features of the field that can be derived from the resulting models. Finally, we discuss prospects for progress in this kind of research.

Donadini, F, Korte M, Constable CG.  2009.  Geomagnetic field for 0-3 ka: 1. New data sets for global modeling. Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems. 10   10.1029/2008gc002295   AbstractWebsite

Paleomagnetic and archeomagnetic records are used in both regional and global studies of Earth's magnetic field. We present a description and assessment of five newly compiled data sets, also used in the companion paper by Korte et al. (2009) to produce a series of time-varying spherical harmonic models of the geomagnetic field for the last 3000 years. Data are drawn from our compilation of lake sediment records and from the online database, GEOMAGIA50v2. The five selections are available from the EarthRef Digital Archive at Data are grouped according to the source of material, and we conducted separate assessments of reliability for archeomagnetic artifacts and lava flows (the ARCH3k_dat data set) and for sediments (SED3k_dat). The overall number of data is 55% greater than in previous compilations. Constrained data sets were selected using different criteria for each group. Winnowing of archeological data was based on uncertainties supplied by the original data providers. The lake sediment data assessment relied on preassigned age uncertainties and one or more of the following: comparisons with archeomagnetic data from the same region, regional consistency among several lakes, and consistency with global archeomagnetic models. We discuss relative merits of a larger unconstrained data set or a smaller (possibly) more reliable one. The constrained data sets eliminate a priori up to 35% of the available data in each case and rely on potentially subjective assessments of data quality. Given the limited data available our analyses indicate that iterative rejection of a small number (1-1.5%) of outlying data during global field modeling is a preferable approach. Specific regional comparisons among the models and data support the conclusion that Korte et al.'s outlier-free CALS3k.3 model based on all available measurements from sediments and archeological artifacts currently provides the best global representation of the 0-3 ka field; the ARCH3k.1 model provides a better fit to the denser European archeomagnetic data and may be better in that region.