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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Ziegler, LB, Constable CG, Johnson CL.  2008.  Testing the robustness and limitations of 0-1 Ma absolute paleointensity data. Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors. 170:34-45.   10.1016/j.pepi.2008.07.027   AbstractWebsite

Absolute paleomagnetic field intensity data derived from thermally magnetized lavas and archeological objects provide information about past geomagnetic field behavior, but the average field strength, its variability, and the expected statistical distribution of these observations remain uncertain despite growing data sets. We investigate these issues for the 0-1 Ma field using data compiled in Perrin and Schnepp [Perrin, M., Schnepp, E., 2004. IAGA paleointensity database: distribution and quality of the data set. Phys. Earth Planet. Int. 147, 255-267], 1124 samples of heterogeneous quality and with restricted temporal and spatial coverage. We accommodate variable spatial sampling by using virtual axial dipole moments (VADM) in our analyses. Uneven temporal sampling results in biased estimates for the mean field and its statistical distribution. We correct for these effects using a bootstrap technique, and find an average VADM of 7.26 +/- 0.14 x 10(22) A m(2). The associated statistical distribution appears bimodal with a subsidiary peak at approximately 5 x 10(22) A m(2). We evaluate a range of potential sources for this behavior. We find no visible evidence for contamination by poor quality data when considering author-supplied uncertainties in the 0-1 Ma data set. The influence of material type is assessed using independent data compilations to compare Holocene data from lava flows, submarine basaltic glass (SBG), and archeological objects. The comparison to SBG is inconclusive because of dating issues, but paleointensity estimates from lavas are on average about 10% higher than for archeological materials and show greater dispersion. Only limited tests of geographic sampling bias are possible. We compare the large number of 0-0.55 Ma Hawaiian data to the global data set with no definitive results. The possibility of over-representation of typically low intensity excursional data is discounted because exclusion of transitional data still leaves a bimodal distribution. No direct test has allowed us to rule out the idea that the observed pdf results from a mixture of two distinct distributions corresponding to two identifiable intensity states for the magnetic field. We investigate an alternative possibility that we were simply unable to recover a hypothetically smoother underlying distribution with a time span of only 1 Myr and the resolution of the current data set. Simulations from a stochastic model based on the geomagnetic field spectrum demonstrate that long period intensity variations can have a strong impact on the observed distributions and could plausibly explain the apparent bimodality. Our 0-1 Ma distribution of VADMs is consistent with that obtained for average relative paleointensity records derived from sediments. (C) 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Jackson, A, Constable CG, Walker MR, Parker RL.  2007.  Models of Earth's main magnetic field incorporating flux and radial vorticity constraints. Geophysical Journal International. 171:133-144.   10.1111/j.1365-246X.2007.03526.x   AbstractWebsite

We describe a new technique for implementing the constraints on magnetic fields arising from two hypotheses about the fluid core of the Earth, namely the frozen-flux hypothesis and the hypothesis that the core is in magnetostrophic force balance with negligible leakage of current into the mantle. These hypotheses lead to time-independence of the integrated flux through certain 'null-flux patches' on the core surface, and to time-independence of their radial vorticity. Although the frozen-flux hypothesis has received attention before, constraining the radial vorticity has not previously been attempted. We describe a parametrization and an algorithm for preserving topology of radial magnetic fields at the core surface while allowing morphological changes. The parametrization is a spherical triangle tesselation of the core surface. Topology with respect to a reference model (based on data from the Oersted satellite) is preserved as models at different epochs are perturbed to optimize the fit to the data; the topology preservation is achieved by the imposition of inequality constraints on the model, and the optimization at each iteration is cast as a bounded value least-squares problem. For epochs 2000, 1980, 1945, 1915 and 1882 we are able to produce models of the core field which are consistent with flux and radial vorticity conservation, thus providing no observational evidence for the failure of the underlying assumptions. These models are a step towards the production of models which are optimal for the retrieval of frozen-flux velocity fields at the core surface.

Korte, M, Genevey A, Constable CG, Frank U, Schnepp E.  2005.  Continuous geomagnetic field models for the past 7 millennia: 1. A new global data compilation. Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems. 6   10.1029/2004gc000800   AbstractWebsite

A global data set of archeomagnetic and paleomagnetic data covering the past 7000 years has been compiled. It consists of 16,085 results of inclination, 13,080 of declination, and 3188 of intensity for the time span 5000 BC to 1950 AD. Declination and inclination data come partly from existing databases and partly from original literature. A new global compilation of intensity data for the millennial scale is included. Data and dating uncertainties are discussed as we attempted to obtain an internally coherent data set. The global distribution of the data is very inhomogeneous in both time and space. All the data are compared to predictions from the previous 3000 year global model, CALS3K.1. This collection of data will be useful for global secular variation studies and geomagnetic field modeling, although southern hemisphere data are still underrepresented. In particular, we will use it in a further study to update and extend the existing global model, CALS3K.1. The huge increase in data compared to the previous compilation will result in significant changes from current models. As we might have missed some suitable data, we encourage the reader to notify us about any data that have not been included yet and might fit in, as improving our global millennial scale models remains our aim for the future.

Constable, CG, Johnson CL, Lund SP.  2000.  Global geomagnetic field models for the past 3000 years: transient or permanent flux lobes? Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London Series a-Mathematical Physical and Engineering Sciences. 358:991-1008. AbstractWebsite

PSVMOD1.0 is a compilation of globally distributed palaeodirectional data from archaeomagnetic artefacts, lava flows, and lake sediments at 24 sites evaluated at 100 year intervals from 1000 BC to AD 1800. We estimate uncertainty in these measures of declination and inclination by comparison with predictions from standard historical models in time-intervals of overlap, and use the 100-year samples and their associated uncertainties to construct a sequence of minimum structure global geomagnetic field models. Global predictions of radial magnetic field at the core mantle boundary (CMB), as well as inclination and declination anomalies at the Earth's surface, provide an unprecedented view of geomagnetic secular variations over the past 3000 years, and demonstrate a consistent evolution of the field with time. Resolution of the models is poorest in the Southern Hemisphere, where only six of the 24 sites are located, several with incomplete temporal coverage. Low-flux regions seen in the historical field near the North Pole are poorly resolved, but the Northern Hemisphere flux lobes are clearly visible in the models. These lobes are not fixed in position and intensity, but they only rarely venture into the Pacific hemisphere. The Pacific region is seen to have experienced significant secular variation: a strong negative inclination anomaly in the region, like that seen in 0-5 Ma models, persists from 1000 BC until AD 1000 and then gradually evolves into the smaller positive anomaly seen today. On average bt tween 1000 BC and AD 1800, the non-axial-dipole contribution to the radial magnetic field at the core-mantle boundary is largest in the north-central Pacific, and beneath Central Asia, with clear non-zonal contributions. At the Earth's surface, average inclination anomalies are large and negative in the central Pacific, and most positive slightly to the east of Central Africa. Inclination anomalies decrease with increasing latitude. Average declinations are smallest in equatorial regions, again with strong longitudinal variations, largest negative departures are centred over Australia and Eastern Asia. Secular variation at the Earth's surface is quantified by standard deviation of inclination and declination about their average values, and at the CMB by standard deviation in radial magnetic field. All three show significant geographical variations, but appear incompatible with the idea that secular variation in the Pacific hemisphere is permanently attenuated by greatly enhanced conductivity in D " beneath the region.