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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.

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.

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 C, Gillet N.  2007.  Maximum entropy regularization of the geomagnetic core field inverse problem. Geophysical Journal International. 171:995-1004.   10.1111/j.1365-246X.2007.03530.x   AbstractWebsite

The maximum entropy technique is an accepted method of image reconstruction when the image is made up of pixels of unknown positive intensity (e.g. a grey-scale image). The problem of reconstructing the magnetic field at the core-mantle boundary from surface data is a problem where the target image, the value of the radial field B-r, can be of either sign. We adopt a known extension of the usual maximum entropy method that can be applied to images consisting of pixels of unconstrained sign. We find that we are able to construct images which have high dynamic ranges, but which still have very simple structure. In the spherical harmonic domain they have smoothly decreasing power spectra. It is also noteworthy that these models have far less complex null flux curve topology (lines on which the radial field vanishes) than do models which are quadratically regularized. Problems such as the one addressed are ubiquitous in geophysics, and it is suggested that the applications of the method could be much more widespread than is currently the case.

Constable, C, Korte M.  2006.  Is Earth's magnetic field reversing? Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 246:1-16.   10.1016/j.epsl.2006.03.038   AbstractWebsite

Earth's dipole field has been diminishing in strength since the first systematic observations of field intensity were made in the mid nineteenth century. This has led to speculation that the geomagnetic field might now be in the early stages of a reversal. In the longer term context of paleomagnetic observations it is found that for the current reversal rate and expected statistical variability in polarity interval length an interval as long as the ongoing 0.78 Myr Brunhes polarity interval is to be expected with a probability of less than 0.15, and the preferred probability estimates range from 0.06 to 0.08. These rather low odds might be used to infer that the next reversal is overdue, but the assessment is limited by the statistical treatment of reversals as point processes. Recent paleofield observations combined with insights derived from field modeling and numerical geodynamo simulations suggest that a reversal is not imminent. The current value of the dipole moment remains high compared with the average throughout the ongoing 0.78 Myr Brunhes polarity interval; the present rate of change in Earth's dipole strength is not anomalous compared with rates of change for the past 7 kyr; furthermore there is evidence that the field has been stronger on average during the Brunhes than for the past 160 Ma, and that high average field values are associated with longer polarity chrons. There is no evidence from recent millennial scale time-varying paleofield models to indicate that the field is entering a polarity transition. Nevertheless, it remains a reasonable supposition that the magnetic field will eventually reverse even though the time scale is unpredictable. A more immediate concern is that ongoing secular variation in the magnetic field may be expected to moderate the current high dipole strength on centennial to millennial time scales: it would not be surprising if it dropped substantially, returning closer to the average without necessarily reversing. This could have important consequences for space weather, and also highlights the need for improved understanding of the impact of geomagnetic field strength on the production rates of cosmogenic isotopes that are used to estimate past solar variability. (c) 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Everett, ME, Constable S, Constable CG.  2003.  Effects of near-surface conductance on global satellite induction responses. Geophysical Journal International. 153:277-286.   10.1046/j.1365-246X.2003.01906.x   AbstractWebsite

A 3-D finite-element simulation of global electromagnetic induction is used to evaluate satellite responses in geomagnetic dipole coordinates for harmonic ring-current excitation of a three-layer mantle overlain by a realistic near-surface conductance distribution. Induced currents are modelled for lithospheric and asthenospheric upper-mantle conductivities in the range sigma= 10(-4) -0.1 S m(-1) . The magnetic scalar intensity B is calculated at a typical satellite altitude of 300 km. At short periods, T = 2 and 12 h, the induction signal owing to the near-surface conductance is large when a resistive upper mantle is present, but drops off with increasing mantle conductivity. At longer periods, T = 2 d, the near-surface induction signal is generally much smaller and nearly independent of upper-mantle conductivity. The near-surface induction signal is very sensitive to the electrical conductivity of the lithospheric mantle, but only moderately sensitive to that of the asthenospheric mantle. Induced currents are confined to the heterogeneous surface shell at periods of less than 2 h, and flow predominantly in the mantle at periods of longer than 2 d. In the intervening period range, induced currents are partitioned between the near-surface and the upper mantle. These results indicate the importance of carrying out a full 3-D analysis in the interpretation of satellite induction observations in the period range from hours to days.

Lowe, DAJ, Parker RL, Purucker ME, Constable CG.  2001.  Estimating the crustal power spectrum from vector Magsat data. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 106:8589-8598.   10.1029/2000jb900437   AbstractWebsite

The Earth's magnetic field can be subdivided into core and crustal components and we seek to characterize the crustal part through its spatial power spectrum, R-1. We process vector Magsat data to isolate the crustal field and then invert power spectral densities of flight-local components along-track for R-1 following O'Brien et al. [1999]. Our model, designated LPPC, is accurate up to approximately spherical harmonic degree 45 (lambda = 900 km): this is the resolution limit of our data and suggests that global crustal anomaly maps constructed from vector Magsat data should not contain features with wavelengths less than 900 km. We find continental power spectra to be greater than oceanic ones and attribute this to the relative thicknesses of continental and oceanic crust.