Publications

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2017
Panovska, S, Constable CG.  2017.  An activity index for geomagnetic paleosecular variation, excursions, and reversals. Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems. 18:1366-1375.   10.1002/2016gc006668   AbstractWebsite

Magnetic indices provide quantitative measures of space weather phenomena that are widely used by researchers in geomagnetism. We introduce an index focused on the internally generated field that can be used to evaluate long term variations or climatology of modern and paleomagnetic secular variation, including geomagnetic excursions, polarity reversals, and changes in reversal rate. The paleosecular variation index, P-i, represents instantaneous or average deviation from a geocentric axial dipole field using normalized ratios of virtual geomagnetic pole colatitude and virtual dipole moment. The activity level of the index, sigma P-i, provides a measure of field stability through the temporal standard deviation of P-i. P-i can be calculated on a global grid from geomagnetic field models to reveal large scale geographic variations in field structure. It can be determined for individual time series, or averaged at local, regional, and global scales to detect long term changes in geomagnetic activity, identify excursions, and transitional field behavior. For recent field models, P-i ranges from less than 0.05 to 0.30. Conventional definitions for geomagnetic excursions are characterized by P-i exceeding 0.5. Strong field intensities are associated with low P-i unless they are accompanied by large deviations from axial dipole field directions. sigma P-i provides a measure of geomagnetic stability that is modulated by the level of PSV or frequency of excursional activity and reversal rate. We demonstrate uses of P-i for paleomagnetic observations and field models and show how it could be used to assess whether numerical simulations of the geodynamo exhibit Earth-like properties.

2006
McMillan, DG, Constable CG.  2006.  Limitations in correlation of regional relative geomagnetic paleointensity. Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems. 7   10.1029/2006gc001350   AbstractWebsite

Time domain correlations of common features among relative paleointensity records from sedimentary cores are invaluable to paleomagnetism and paleoclimatology. Sediments with high accumulation rates might now provide millennial scale correlations of temporal variations in the geomagnetic dipole moment. Errors in the ages of paleomagnetic data samples, however, can make such correlations difficult and unreliable. We use spectral methods to assess the level of coherence expected among individual and stacked high- resolution simulated paleointensity records for the time interval 0 - 75 ka. Correlations between individual paleointensity records are systematically degraded with decreased sedimentation rate and increased magnitude of age errors. We find that with optimistic age errors and interpolation of depth sampled data to evenly spaced time series, only short period signal in high- resolution relative paleointensity is corrupted. For currently available methods of establishing chronologies, we estimate the minimum characteristic timescale of correlative features between pairs of regional stacked records at about 4.5 kyr. From an analysis of NAPIS- 75 and SAPIS data, it appears that the limit is inherent to the regional stacks and not a consequence of comparison of distant, independent data sets. A detailed comparison of the NAPIS- 75 and SAPIS stacks shows that this limit is likely larger, perhaps 6 kyr. At long periods the two regional stacks are more poorly correlated than those from our simulations, suggesting somewhat larger age errors in the individual paleointensity records.

2004
McMillan, DG, Constable CG, Parker RL.  2004.  Assessing the dipolar signal in stacked paleointensity records using a statistical error model and geodynamo simulations. Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors. 145:37-54.   10.1016/j.pepi.2004.02.011   AbstractWebsite

Stacks of globally distributed relative paleointensity records from sediment cores are used to study temporal variations in the strength of the geomagnetic dipole. We assess the intrinsic accuracy and resolution of such stacks, which may be limited by errors in paleointensity, non-dipole field contributions, and the age scales assigned to each sediment core. Our approach employs two types of simulations. Numerical geodynamo models generate accurate predictions of time series of magnetic variations anywhere in the world. The predicted variations are then degraded using an appropriate statistical model to simulate expected age and paleointensity errors. A series of experiments identify the major contributors to error and loss of resolution in the resulting stacks. The statistical model simulates rock magnetic and measurement errors in paleointensity, and age errors due to finite sampling and approximations inherent in interpolation, incomplete or inaccurate tie point information, and sedimentation rate variations. Data sampling and interpolation to a designated age scale cause substantial decorrelation, and control the maximum level of agreement attainable between completely accurate records. The particular method of interpolation appears to have little effect on the coherence between accurate records, but denser tie point data improve the agreement. Age errors decorrelate geomagnetic signals, usually at shorter periods, although they can destroy coherence over a broad range of periods. The poor correlation between neighboring paleomagnetic records often observed in real data can be accounted for by age errors of moderate magnitude. In a global dataset of 20 records, modeled after the SINT800 compilation and spanning 300 kyr, our results show that dipole variations with periods longer than about 20 kyr can be recovered by the stacking process. Reasonable contributions to error in the paleointensity itself have a modest influence on the result, as do non-dipole field contributions whose effect is minor at periods longer than 10 kyr. Modest errors in the ages of tie points probably account for most of the degradation in geomagnetic signal. Stacked sedimentary paleomagnetic records can be improved by denser temporal sampling and careful selection of independent high-quality tie points. (C) 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.