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Korte, M, Brown MC, Gunnarson SR, Nilsson A, Panovska S, Wardinski I, Constable CG.  2019.  Refining Holocene geochronologies using palaeomagnetic records. Quaternary Geochronology. 50:47-74.   10.1016/j.quageo.2018.11.004   AbstractWebsite

The aperiodic nature of geomagnetic field variations, both in intensity and direction, can aid in dating archaeological artefacts, volcanic rocks, and sediment records that carry a palaeomagnetic signal. The success of palaeomagnetic dating relies upon our knowledge of past field variations at specific locations. Regional archaeo- and palaeomagnetic reference curves and predictions from global geomagnetic field models provide our best description of field variations through the Holocene. State-of-the-art palaeomagnetic laboratory practices and accurate independent age controls are prerequisites for deriving reliable reference curves and models from archaeological, volcanic, and sedimentary palaeomagnetic data. In this review paper we give an overview of these prerequisites and the available reference curves and models, discuss techniques for palaeomagnetic dating, and outline its limitations. In particular, palaeomagnetic dating on its own cannot give unique results, but rather serves to refine or confirm ages obtained by other methods. Owing to the non-uniform character of magnetic field variations in different regions, care is required when choosing a palaeomagnetic dating curve, so that the distance between the dating curve and the record to be dated is not too large. Accurate reporting and incorporation of new, independently dated archaeo- and palaeomagnetic results into databases will help to improve reference curves and global models for all regions on Earth.

Panovska, S, Constable CG, Brown MC.  2018.  Global and regional assessments of paleosecular variation activity over the past 100 ka. Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems. 19:1559-1580.   10.1029/2017gc007271   AbstractWebsite

We present a global compilation of paleomagnetic data spanning the past 100 ka. Sediment data comprise 61,687 declinations, 70,936 inclinations, and 69,596 relative paleointensities. Many sites are located in the northern Atlantic and western Pacific, with approximately twice as many data from the Northern Hemisphere as from the Southern Hemisphere. The 14,954 volcanic and archeomagnetic data are sparse, especially in the Southern Hemisphere. Directional and intensity information are aggregated under the paleosecular variation (PSV) index to assess occurrence of excursions over the past 100 ka. The Laschamp excursion (approximate to 41 ka) is clearly defined across globally distributed sediment records with an average duration of 1,300 years. Regional stacks obtained using bootstrap resampling show a more pronounced Laschamp excursion in the Northern Hemisphere than in the Southern, and in the Atlantic Hemisphere compared with the Pacific. No anomalous indices occurred around the Mono Lake excursion or other periods in the bootstrap curves. This may result from low sedimentation rates, discrepancies in age scales, large age errors, and/or the lack of global character of any transitional events. These data and associated new uncertainty estimates for the sediment records provide a good foundation for global, time-dependent, spherical harmonic field modeling for the past 100 ka.

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.

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.

Johnson, CL, Constable CG, Tauxe L, Barendregt R, Brown LL, Coe RS, Layer P, Mejia V, Opdyke ND, Singer BS, Staudigel H, Stone DB.  2008.  Recent investigations of the 0-5 Ma geomagnetic field recorded by lava flows. Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems. 9   10.1029/2007gc001696   AbstractWebsite

We present a synthesis of 0 - 5 Ma paleomagnetic directional data collected from 17 different locations under the collaborative Time Averaged geomagnetic Field Initiative ( TAFI). When combined with regional compilations from the northwest United States, the southwest United States, Japan, New Zealand, Hawaii, Mexico, South Pacific, and the Indian Ocean, a data set of over 2000 sites with high quality, stable polarity, and declination and inclination measurements is obtained. This is a more than sevenfold increase over similar quality data in the existing Paleosecular Variation of Recent Lavas (PSVRL) data set, and has greatly improved spatial sampling. The new data set spans 78 degrees S to 53 degrees N, and has sufficient temporal and spatial sampling to allow characterization of latitudinal variations in the time-averaged field (TAF) and paleosecular variation (PSV) for the Brunhes and Matuyama chrons, and for the 0 - 5 Ma interval combined. The Brunhes and Matuyama chrons exhibit different TAF geometries, notably smaller departures from a geocentric axial dipole field during the Brunhes, consistent with higher dipole strength observed from paleointensity data. Geographical variations in PSV are also different for the Brunhes and Matuyama. Given the high quality of our data set, polarity asymmetries in PSV and the TAF cannot be attributed to viscous overprints, but suggest different underlying field behavior, perhaps related to the influence of long-lived core-mantle boundary conditions on core flow. PSV, as measured by dispersion of virtual geomagnetic poles, shows less latitudinal variation than predicted by current statistical PSV models, or by previous data sets. In particular, the Brunhes data reported here are compatible with a wide range of models, from those that predict constant dispersion as a function of latitude to those that predict an increase in dispersion with latitude. Discriminating among such models could be helped by increased numbers of low-latitude data and new high northern latitude sites. Tests with other data sets, and with simulations, indicate that some of the latitudinal signature previously observed in VGP dispersion can be attributed to the inclusion of low-quality, insufficiently cleaned data with too few samples per site. Our Matuyama data show a stronger dependence of dispersion on latitude than the Brunhes data. The TAF is examined using the variation of inclination anomaly with latitude. Best fit two- parameter models have axial quadrupole contributions of 2 - 4% of the axial dipole term, and axial octupole contributions of 1 - 5%. Approximately 2% of the octupole signature is likely the result of bias incurred by averaging unit vectors.

Backus, G, Parker RL, Constable C.  2005.  Foundations of geomagnetism. :xiv,369p.., Cambridge ; New York: Cambridge University Press AbstractWebsite
Staudigel, H, Hart SR, Koppers AAP, Constable C, Workman R, Kurz M, Baker ET.  2004.  Hydrothermal venting at Vailulu'u Seamount: The smoking end of the Samoan chain. Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems. 5   10.1029/2003gc000626   AbstractWebsite

[1] The summit crater of Vailulu'u Seamount, the youngest volcano in the Samoan chain, hosts an active hydrothermal system with profound impact on the ocean water column inside and around its crater ( 2 km wide and 407 m deep at a 593 m summit depth). The turbidity of the ocean water reaches 1.4 NTU, values that are higher than in any other submarine hydrothermal system. The water is enriched in hydrothermal Mn (3.8 ppb) and He-3 (1 x 10(-11) cc/g) and we measured water temperature anomalies near the crater floor up to 0.2degreesC. The hydrothermal system shows complex interactions with the ocean currents around Vailulu'u that include tidally-modulated vertical motions of about 40 - 50 m, and replenishment of waters into the crater through breaches in the upper half of the crater wall. Inside and outside potential density gradients suggest that hydrothermal venting exports substantial amounts of water from the crater (1.3 +/- 0.2 x 10(8) m(3)/day), which is in good agreement with fluxes obtained from a tracer release experiment inside the crater of Vailulu'u (0.8 x 10(8) m(3)/day [ Hart et al., 2003]). This mass flux, in combination with the differences in the inside and outside crater temperature, yields a power output of around 760 megawatts, the equivalent of 20 - 100 MOR black smokers. The Mn output of 300 kg/day is approximately ten times the output of a single black smoker.

Olsen, N, Holme R, Hulot G, Sabaka T, Neubert T, Toffner-Clausen L, Primdahl F, Jorgensen J, Leger JM, Barraclough D, Bloxham J, Cain J, Constable C, Golovkov V, Jackson A, Kotze P, Langlais B, Macmillan S, Mandea M, Merayo J, Newitt L, Purucker M, Risbo T, Stampe M, Thomson A, Voorhies C.  2000.  Orsted initial field model. Geophysical Research Letters. 27:3607-3610.   10.1029/2000gl011930   AbstractWebsite

Magnetic measurements taken by the Orsted satellite during geomagnetic quiet conditions around January 1, 2000 have been used to derive a spherical harmonic model of the Earth's magnetic field for epoch 2000.0. The maximum degree and order of the model is 19 for internal, and 2 for external, source fields; however, coefficients above degree 14 may not be robust. Such a detailed model exists for only one previous epoch, 1980. Achieved rms misfit is < 2 nT for the scalar intensity and < 3 nT for one of the vector components perpendicular to the magnetic field. For scientific purposes related to the Orsted mission, this model supercedes IGRF 2000.

Backus, G, Parker RL, Constable C.  1996.  Foundations of geomagnetism. :xiv,369p.., Cambridge England ; New York: Cambridge University Press AbstractWebsite

The main magnetic field of the Earth is a complex phenomenon. To understand its origins in the fluid of the Earth's core, and how it changes in time requires a variety of mathematical and physical tools. This book presents the foundations of geomagnetism, in detail and developed from first principles. The book is based on George Backus' courses for graduate students at the University of California, San Diego. The material is mathematically rigorous, but is logically developed and has consistent notation, making it accessible to a broad range of readers. The book starts with an overview of the phenomena of interest in geomagnetism, and then goes on to deal with the phenomena in detail, building the necessary techniques in a thorough and consistent manner. Students and researchers will find this book to be an invaluable resource in the appreciation of the mathematical and physical foundations of geomagnetism.

Tauxe, L, Constable C, Stokking L, Badgley C.  1990.  Use of Anisotropy to Determine the Origin of Characteristic Remanence in the Siwalik Red Beds of Northern Pakistan. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth and Planets. 95:4391-4404.   10.1029/JB095iB04p04391   AbstractWebsite

It is often difficult or impossible to determine the origin of the characteristic remanent magnetization of red beds from the bulk remanence alone. However, anisotropy of remanence or susceptibility is strongly controlled by the statistical alignment of hematite grains; this in turn may reflect the development of the magnetic fabric of the sediment over time, so the shape of the anisotropy ellipsoid may provide clues to the origin of remanence. In this work, we make a study of the anisotropy of magnetic susceptibility (AMS) in Siwalik red beds of Miocene age from northern Pakistan. Comparison of the results with detailed petrographic studies and other information suggests that advanced soil development leads to the destruction of primary fabrics and often with it, a coherent magnetization. Furthermore, it should be possible to use AMS fabric information to quantify the degree of pedogenesis in these Miocene soils. We attempted to determine the anisotropy of isothermal remanence (AIR) but found AMS to be the technique of choice because of apparent changes in coercivity during AIR experiments. We interpret the AIR data as resulting from metastable domains in hematite grains which change domain state during the AIR experiment.