Publications

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2018
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.

2005
Constable, C, Johnson C.  2005.  A paleomagnetic power spectrum. Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors. 153:61-73.   10.1016/j.pepi.2005.03.015   AbstractWebsite

We construct a power spectrum of geomagnetic dipole moment variations or their proxies that spans the period range from some tens of million down to about 100 years. Empirical estimates of the spectrum are derived from the magnetostratigraphic time scale, from marine sediment relative paleointensity records, and from a time varying paleomagnetic field model for the past 7 kyr. The spectrum has the most power at long periods, reflecting the influence of geomagnetic reversals and in general decreases with increasing frequency (decreasing period). The empirical spectrum is compared with predictions from simple models. Discrepancies between the observed and predicted spectra are discussed in the context of: (i) changes in reversal rate, (ii) overall average reversal rate, (iii) cryptochrons, (iv) the time taken for a reversal to occur, and (v) long term paleosecular variations and average estimates of the field strength and variance from other sources. (c) 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.