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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.

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.

Korte, M, Donadini F, Constable CG.  2009.  Geomagnetic field for 0-3 ka: 2. A new series of time-varying global models. Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems. 10   10.1029/2008gc002297   AbstractWebsite

Steadily increasing numbers of archeomagnetic and paleomagnetic data for the Holocene have allowed development of temporally continuous global spherical harmonic models of the geomagnetic field extending present and historical global descriptions of magnetic field evolution. The current work uses various subsets of improved data compilations, details of which are given in a companion paper by Donadini et al. (2009), and minor modifications of standard modeling strategies (using temporally and spatially regularized inversion of the data and cubic spline parameterizations for temporal variations) to produce five models with enhanced spatial and temporal resolution for 0-3 ka. Spurious end effects present in earlier models are eliminated by enforcing large-scale agreement with the gufm1 historical model for 1650-1990 A.D. and by extending the model range to accommodate data older than 3 ka. Age errors are not considered as a contribution to data uncertainties but are included along with data uncertainties in an investigation of statistical uncertainty estimates for the models using parametric bootstrap resampling techniques. We find common features but also significant differences among the various models, indicating intrinsic uncertainties in global models based on the currently available Holocene data. Model CALS3k.3 based on all available archeomagnetic and sediment data, without a priori quality selection, currently constitutes the best global representation of the past field. The new models have slightly higher dipole moments than our previous models. Virtual axial dipole moments (VADMs) calculated directly from the data are in good agreement with all corresponding model predictions of VADMs. These are always higher than the spherical harmonic dipole moment, indicating the limitations of using VADMs as a measure of geomagnetic dipole moments.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Davies, CJ, Constable CG.  2018.  Searching for geomagnetic spikes in numerical dynamo simulations. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 504:72-83.   10.1016/j.epsl.2018.09.037   AbstractWebsite

We use numerical dynamo simulations to investigate rapid changes in geomagnetic field intensity. The work is motivated by paleomagnetic observations of 'geomagnetic spikes', events where the field intensity rose and then fell by a factor of 2-3 over decadal timescales and a confined spatial region. No comparable events have been found in the historical record and so geomagnetic spikes may contain new and important information regarding the operation of the geodynamo. However, they are also controversial because uncertainties and resolution limitations in the available data hinder efforts to define their spatiotemporal characteristics. This has led to debate over whether such extreme events can originate in Earth's liquid core. Geodynamo simulations produce high spatio-temporal resolution intensity information, but must be interpreted with care since they cannot yet run at the conditions of Earth's liquid core. We employ reversing and non-reversing geodynamo simulations run at different physical conditions and consider various methods of scaling the results to allow comparison with Earth. In each simulation we search for 'extremal events', defined as the maximum intensity difference between consecutive time points, at each location on a 2 degrees latitude-longitude grid at Earth's surface, thereby making no assumptions regarding the spatio-temporal character of the event. Extremal events display spike-shaped time-series in some simulations, though they can often be asymmetric about the peak intensity. Maximum rates of change reach 0.75 mu Tyr(-1) in several simulations, the lower end of estimates for spikes, suggesting that such events can originate from the core. The fastest changes generally occur at latitudes > 50 degrees, which could be used to guide future data acquisitions. Extremal events in the simulations arise from rapid intensification of flux patches as they migrate across the core surface, rather than emergence of flux from within the core. The prospect of observing more spikes in the paleomagnetic record appears contingent on finding samples at the right location and time to sample this particular phase of flux patch evolution. (C) 2018 Published by Elsevier B.V.

Avery, MS, Constable CG, Davies CJ, Gubbins D.  2019.  Spectral methods for analyzing energy balances in geodynamo simulations. Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors. 286:127-137.   10.1016/j.pepi.2018.10.002   AbstractWebsite

The geomagnetic field displays complicated variations over a broad range of frequencies. These variations can be decomposed by frequency and linked to physical processes using frequency domain spectral methods. These spectral methods are well developed but have not previously been applied to study the energy balance of geodynamo simulations. We illustrate their potential by analyzing output from numerical dynamo simulations that have previously been studied for their apparently Earth-like properties. We show that high coherence between variations in axial dipole energy at the outer boundary of the simulation and total magnetic energy within the fluid shell occur at frequencies below similar to 0.1 kyr(-1). This suggests that paleomagnetically-observable signals with periods exceeding 10 kyrs contain information about magnetic energy changes in the bulk core. We then use spectral analysis to investigate differences in the rate of growth and decay of the axial dipole field. This behaviour, characterised by rapid growth and slow decay, is observed when signals with frequencies higher than 0.03 kyr(-1) have been filtered out. The origin of this asymmetric growth and decay is assessed using coherence spectra between rates of change in kinetic and magnetic energy, ohmic and viscous dissipation, and work done by the buoyancy and Lorentz forces. We show that asymmetry is associated with an imbalance between ohmic dissipation and work done by the Lorentz force; when changes in magnetic energy are more coherent with ohmic dissipation the field grows rapidly and decay slowly. Variations in Ohmic dissipation reflect changes in field strength in our models, while changes in viscous dissipation are associated with amplitude fluctuations of the large-scale flow that exists on millennial timescales. Our work shows that spectral analysis coupling observable and global products of the dynamo process can elucidate the physical origin of periodic processes occurring on timescales exceeding 10 kyrs.