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Journal Article
Constable, CG, Tauxe L, Parker RL.  1998.  Analysis of 11 Myr of geomagnetic intensity variation. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 103:17735-17748.   10.1029/98jb01519   AbstractWebsite

We have conducted a detailed exploratory analysis of an II million year long almost continuous record of relative geomagnetic paleointensity from a sediment core acquired on Deep Sea Drilling Project Leg 73, at Site 522 in the South Atlantic. We assess the quality of the paleointensity record using spectral methods and conclude that the relative intensity record is minimally influenced by climate variations. Isothermal remanence is shown to be the most effective normalizer for these data, although both susceptibility and anhysteretic remanence are also adequate. Statistical analysis shows that the paleointensity variations follow a gamma distribution, and are compatible with predictions from modified paleosecular variation models and global absolute paleointensity data. When subdivided by polarity interval, the variability in paleointensity is proportional to the average, and further, the average is weakly correlated with interval length. Spectral estimates for times from 28.77 until 22.74 Ma, when the reversal rate is about 4 Myr(-1), are compatible with a Poisson model in which the spectrum of intensity variations is dominated by the reversal process in the frequency range 1-50 Mgr(-1) In contrast, between 34.7 and 29.4 Ma, when the reversal rate is about 1.6 Myr(-1), the spectra indicate a different secular variation regime. The magnetic field is stronger, and more variable, and a strong peak in the spectrum occurs at about 8 Myr(-1). This peak magi be a reflection of the same signal as recorded by the small variations known as tiny wiggles seen in marine magnetic anomaly profiles.

Constable, CG, Johnson CL.  1999.  Anisotropic paleosecular variation models: implications for geomagnetic field observables. Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors. 115:35-51.   10.1016/s0031-9201(99)00065-5   AbstractWebsite

We present a family of statistical models for paleosecular variation (PSV) of the geomagnetic field that are compatible with paleodirectional and paleointensity variations in lava flows sampling the last 5 Ma, and explore what paleomagnetic observables might be used to discriminate among the various family members. We distinguish statistical models with axial anisotropy, which provide a suitable description for an earth with homogeneous boundary conditions at the core-mantle interface from those with more general anisotropy corresponding to geographically heterogeneous boundary conditions. The models revise and extend earlier ones, which are themselves descendants of CP88, devised by Constable and Parker [Constable, C.G., Parker, R.L., 1988. Statistics of the geomagnetic secular variation for the past 5 m.y. J. Geophys, Res. 93, 11569-11581]. In CP88, secular variation is described by statistical variability of each Gauss coefficient in a spherical harmonic description of the geomagnetic field, with each coefficient treated as a normally distributed random variable: the Gauss coefficients of the non-dipole part of the field exhibit isotropic variability, and the variances are derived from the present field spatial power spectrum. The dipole terms have a special status in CP88, with a non-zero mean for the axial-dipole, and lower variance than predicted from the spatial power spectrum. All non-dipole terms have zero mean except the axial-quadrupole. CP88 is untenable for two reasons: it fails to predict the observed geographic dependence of directional variability in the magnetic field, and it grossly underpredicts the variance in paleointensity data. The new models incorporate large variance in the axial-dipole, and in the non-axial-quadrupole Gauss coefficients, g1/2: and h1/2:. The resulting variance in paleomagnetic observables depends only on latitude (zonal models), unless the variance in h1/2: is different from that in g1/2 (non-zonal models). Non-zonal (longitudinal) variations in PSV, such as the flux lobes seen in the historical magnetic field, are simulated using the non-zonal models. Both the zonal and non-zonal models fit summary statistics of the present dataset. We investigate the influence of persistent non-zonal influences in PSV on various paleomagnetic observables. It is shown that virtual geomagnetic pole (VGP) dispersion is rather insensitive to longitudinal variations in structure of PSV, and that inclination dispersion has the potential to be more informative given the right site distribution. There is also the possibility of using paleointensity and geographic variations in the frequency of occurrence of excursional directions to identify appropriate PSV models. (C) 1999 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

Ziegler, LB, Constable CG.  2011.  Asymmetry in growth and decay of the geomagnetic dipole. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 312:300-304.   10.1016/j.epsl.2011.10.019   AbstractWebsite

The geodynamo in Earth's core is responsible for magnetic field changes on diverse timescales, including numerous enigmatic reversals of the dipole field polarity. Understanding the physical processes driving them is an active area of investigation via both paleomagnetic work and numerical simulations of the geodynamo. Some previous studies on geomagnetic field intensity detected a sawtooth pattern of intensity around reversals: a gradual decay in field strength preceding a reversal followed by rapid growth afterwards. Here we characterize distinct statistical properties for increasing and decreasing dipole strength over the past two million years. Examining the geomagnetic field and its time derivative on a range of time scales reveals that for periods longer than about 25 ky there is a clear asymmetry in the statistical distributions for growth versus decay rates of the dipole strength. At 36 ky period, average growth rate is about 20% larger than the decay rate, and the field spends 54% of its time decaying, but only 46% growing. These differences are not limited to times when the field is reversing, suggesting that the asymmetry is controlled by fundamental physical processes underlying all paleosecular variation. The longer decay cycle might suggest the possibility of episodic periods of subcritical dynamo activity where the field is dominated by diffusive processes, followed by transient episodes of strong growth of the axial dipole. However, our work finds no clear separation of timescales for the influence of diffusive and convective processes on dipole moment: both seem to play an important but asymmetric role on the 25-150 ky timescale. (C) 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Korte, M, Constable CG.  2006.  Centennial to millennial geomagnetic secular variation. Geophysical Journal International. 167:43-52.   10.1111/j.1365-246X.2006.03088.x   AbstractWebsite

A time-varying spherical harmonic model of the palaeomagnetic field for 0-7 ka is used to investigate large-scale global geomagnetic secular variation on centennial to millennial scales. We study dipole moment evolution over the past 7 kyr, and estimate its rate of change using the Gauss coefficients of degree 1 (dipole coefficients) from the CALS7K.2 field model and by two alternative methods that confirm the robustness of the predicted variations. All methods show substantial dipole moment variation on timescales ranging from centennial to millennial. The dipole moment from CALS7K.2 has the best resolution and is able to resolve the general decrease in dipole moment seen in historical observations since about 1830. The currently observed rate of dipole decay is underestimated by CALS7K.2, but is still not extraordinarily strong in comparison to the rates of change shown by the model over the whole 7 kyr interval. Truly continuous phases of dipole decrease or increase are decadal to centennial in length rather than longer-term features. The general large-scale secular variation shows substantial changes in power in higher spherical harmonic degrees on similar timescales to the dipole. Comparisons are made between statistical variations calculated directly from CALS7K.2 and longer-term palaeosecular variation models: CALS7K.2 has lower overall variance in the dipole and quadrupole terms, but exhibits an imbalance between dispersion in g(2)(1) and h(2)(1), suggestive of long-term non-zonal structure in the secular variations.

Smith-Boughner, LT, Ziegler LB, Constable CG.  2011.  Changing spectrum of geomagnetic intensity variations in a fragmented 12 My sediment record from the Oligocene. Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors. 188:260-269.   10.1016/j.pepi.2011.07.011   AbstractWebsite

Time series of relative geomagnetic paleointensity variations derived from marine sediments can be calibrated using absolute data derived from igneous materials. The resulting records may be suitable for spectral analysis of geomagnetic dipole variations. This work re-evaluates the 12 My (22.74-34.77 Ma) sediment record from Deep Sea Drilling Project Leg 73, Site 522, that is a key data set for determining the paleomagnetic power spectrum in the frequency range 1-100 My(-1). The 12 My record is marred by uneven sampling, with the interval between samples ranging from 1 to 640 ky, and contains several gaps that are considered too long to interpolate. The relative intensity data are calibrated using 129 globally distributed absolute paleointensity data from the same time interval. The power spectrum of the resulting time series is estimated using direct multi-taper spectral estimation with prolate data tapers adapted to deal with missing sections in the time series. The longest record available for analysis is thereby extended from 5.3 to 12 My. The new paleomagnetic power spectrum confirms the presence of a broad spectral peak at around 8 My(-1) for the early Oligocene and uncovers a peak around 2.5 My(-1) in the late Oligocene. Both peaks may be linked to tiny wiggles in marine magnetic anomalies. The new analysis unambiguously verifies that there is lower overall power in the younger part of the record, where the reversal process appears to dominate the power spectrum of the paleosecular variation. A comparison of the late Oligocene spectrum with that of PADM2M, a model of paleomagnetic axial dipole variations for 0-2 Ma, reveals some broad similarities; both time periods have similar power levels and a reversal rate of 4 My(-1). During the early Oligocene the reversal rate is about a factor of two lower, the field strength is higher, and the secular variation is stronger, suggesting that a strong magnetic field inhibits reversals but produces more variability in field strength. (C) 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Love, JJ, Constable CG.  2003.  Gaussian statistics for palaeomagnetic vectors. Geophysical Journal International. 152:515-565.   10.1046/j.1365-246X.2003.01858.x   AbstractWebsite

With the aim of treating the statistics of palaeomagnetic directions and intensities jointly and consistently, we represent the mean and the variance of palaeomagnetic vectors, at a particular site and of a particular polarity, by a probability density function in a Cartesian three-space of orthogonal magnetic-field components consisting of a single (unimodal) non-zero mean, spherically-symmetrical (isotropic) Gaussian function. For palaeomagnetic data of mixed polarities, we consider a bimodal distribution consisting of a pair of such symmetrical Gaussian functions, with equal, but opposite, means and equal variances. For both the Gaussian and bi-Gaussian distributions, and in the spherical three-space of intensity, inclination, and declination, we obtain analytical expressions for the marginal density functions, the cumulative distributions, and the expected values and variances for each spherical coordinate (including the angle with respect to the axis of symmetry of the distributions). The mathematical expressions for the intensity and off-axis angle are closed-form and especially manageable, with the intensity distribution being Rayleigh-Rician. In the limit of small relative vectorial dispersion, the Gaussian (bi-Gaussian) directional distribution approaches a Fisher (Bingham) distribution and the intensity distribution approaches a normal distribution. In the opposite limit of large relative vectorial dispersion, the directional distributions approach a spherically-uniform distribution and the intensity distribution approaches a Maxwell distribution. We quantify biases in estimating the properties of the vector field resulting from the use of simple arithmetic averages, such as estimates of the intensity or the inclination of the mean vector, or the variances of these quantities. With the statistical framework developed here and using the maximum-likelihood method, which gives unbiased estimates in the limit of large data numbers, we demonstrate how to formulate the inverse problem, and how to estimate the mean and variance of the magnetic vector field, even when the data consist of mixed combinations of directions and intensities. We examine palaeomagnetic secular-variation data from Hawaii and Reunion, and although these two sites are on almost opposite latitudes, we find significant differences in the mean vector and differences in the local vectorial variances, with the Hawaiian data being particularly anisotropic. These observations are inconsistent with a description of the mean field as being a simple geocentric axial dipole and with secular variation being statistically symmetrical with respect to reflection through the equatorial plane. Finally, our analysis of palaeomagnetic acquisition data from the 1960 Kilauea flow in Hawaii and the Holocene Xitle flow in Mexico, is consistent with the widely held suspicion that directional data are more accurate than intensity data.

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.

O'Brien, MS, Parker RL, Constable CG.  1999.  Magnetic power spectrum of the ocean crust on large scales. Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth. 104:29189-29201.   10.1029/1999jb900302   AbstractWebsite

The geomagnetic power spectrum R-l is the squared magnetic field in each spherical harmonic degree averaged over a spherical surface. Satellite measurements have given reliable estimates of the spectrum for the part that originates in the core, but above I = 15, where the geomagnetic field arises primarily from crustal magnetization, there is considerable disagreement between various estimates derived from observation. Furthermore, several theoretical models for the spectrum disagree with each other and the data. We have examined observations from a different source, 5000-km-long Project Magnet aeromagnetic survey lines; we make new estimates of the spectrum which overlap with the wavelength interval accessible to the satellites. The usual way the spectrum is derived from observation is to construct a large spherical harmonic decomposition first, then square, weight, and add the Gauss coefficients in each degree, but this method cannot be applied to isolated flight lines. Instead, we apply a statistical technique based on an idea of McLeod and Coleman which relates the geomagnetic spectrum to the power and cross spectra of magnetic field components measured on the survey lines. Power spectra from the 17 aeromagnetic surveys, all of which were conducted over the oceans, are averaged together to improve geographic coverage and reduce variance, and the average spectra are then inverted for the geomagnetic spectrum R-l. Like most of the theoretical models, our spectrum exhibits a maximum, but at a wavelength of 100 km, about a factor of 2 smaller than the closest theoretical prediction. Our spectrum agrees quite well with the most recent estimates based on satellite observations in the range 20 less than or equal to l less than or equal to 50, but above l=50, our values increase slowly, while all the satellite data suggest a sharply rising curve. In this wavelength range we believe our measurements are more trustworthy. Further work is planned to confirm the accuracy of our spectrum when continental survey paths are included.

Constable, CG.  2011.  Modelling the geomagnetic field from syntheses of paleomagnetic data. Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors. 187:109-117.   10.1016/j.pepi.2011.05.004   AbstractWebsite

This review examines results from time-varying geomagnetic field models that span several thousand years, and from variations in dipole moment strength up to million year time scales. For the past 400 years, twin magnetic flux lobes bordering the inner core tangent cylinder in both northern and southern hemispheres dominate the geomagnetic field and appear more or less fixed in location. In contrast, the millennial scale view shows that such features are quite mobile and subject to morphological changes on time scales of a few centuries to a thousand years, possibly reflecting large scale reorganization of core flow. The lobes rarely venture into the Pacific hemisphere, and average fields over various time scales generally reveal two or three sets of lobes, of diminished amplitude. Thus millennial scale models are suggestive of thermal core-mantle coupling generating a weak bias in the average field rather than a strong inhibition of large scale field changes. The recovery of variations in dipole moment on million year time scales allows frequency domain analyses to search for characteristic time scales for core dynamics that might be associated with excursion and reversal rate, time taken for reversals, or any signs of control by Earth's orbital parameters. The spectrum is characteristically red for the time interval 0-160 Ma, suggesting non-stationarity associated with average reversal rate changes, probably reflecting the impact of superchrons and a continually evolving core. Distinct regimes of power law decay with frequency may reflect different physical processes contributing to the secular variation. Evidence for non-stationarity at shorter time-scales is also present in dipole moment variations over 0-2 Ma with average growth rate faster than the decay process. Rates of change of dipole moment and rapid local field variations found in the paleomagnetic record are evaluated in the context of the 400 year historical record and the spectrum of geomagnetic variations for 0-160 Ma. (C) 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Tauxe, L, Constable C, Johnson CL, Koppers AAP, Miller WR, Staudigel H.  2003.  Paleomagnetism of the southwestern USA recorded by 0-5 Ma igneous rocks. Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems. 4   10.1029/2002gc000343   AbstractWebsite

The issue of permanent nondipole contributions to the time-averaged field lies at the very heart of paleomagnetism and the study of the ancient geomagnetic field. In this paper we focus on paleomagnetic directional results from igneous rocks of the southwestern U. S. A. in the age range 0-5 Ma and investigate both the time-averaged field and its variability about the mean value. Several decades of work in the southwestern United States have resulted in the publication of paleomagnetic data from over 800 individual paleomagnetic sites. As part of a new investigation of the San Francisco Volcanics, we collected paleomagnetic samples from 47 lava flows, many of which have been previously dated. The new data combined with published data are highly scattered. Contributions to the scatter were considered, and we find that removal of data sets from tectonically active areas and judicious selection according to Fisher's [1953] precision parameter results in an axially symmetric data distribution with normal and reverse modes that are indistinguishable from antipodal. Monte Carlo simulations suggest that a minimum of 5 samples per site are needed to estimate the precision parameter sufficiently accurately to allow its use as a determinant of data quality. Numerical simulations from statistical paleosecular variation models indicate the need for several hundred paleomagnetic sites to get an accurate determination of the average field direction and are also used to investigate the directional bias that results from averaging unit vectors rather than using the full field vector. Average directions for the southwestern U. S. A. show small deviations from a geocentric axial dipole field, but these cannot be considered statistically significant. Virtual geomagnetic pole (VGP) dispersions are consistent with those from globally distributed observations analyzed by McElhinny and McFadden [1997]. However, a systematic investigation of the effect of imposing a cutoff on VGPs with large deviations from the geographic axis indicates that while it may reduce bias in calculating the average direction, such a procedure can result in severe underestimates of the variance in the geomagnetic field. A more satisfactory solution would be to use an unbiased technique for joint estimation of the mean direction and variance of the field distribution.

Lawrence, KP, Constable CG, Johnson CL.  2006.  Paleosecular variation and the average geomagnetic field at +/- 20 degrees latitude. Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems. 7   10.1029/2005gc001181   AbstractWebsite

[1] We assembled a new paleomagnetic directional data set from lava flows and thin dikes for four regions centered on +/-20 degrees latitude: Hawaii, Mexico, the South Pacific, and Reunion. We investigate geomagnetic field behavior over the past 5 Myr and address whether geographical differences are recorded by our data set. We include inclination data from other globally distributed sites with the +/-20 degrees data to determine the best fitting time-averaged field (TAF) for a two-parameter longitudinally symmetric (zonal) model. Values for our model parameters, the axial quadrupole and octupole terms, are 4% and 6% of the axial dipole, respectively. Our estimate of the quadrupole term is compatible with most previous studies of deviations from a geocentric axial dipole (GAD) field. Our estimated octupole term is larger than that from normal polarity continental and igneous rocks, and oceanic sediments, but consistent with that from reversed polarity continental and igneous rocks. The variance reduction compared with a GAD field is similar to 12%, and the remaining signal is attributed to paleosecular variation (PSV). We examine PSV at +/-20 degrees using virtual geomagnetic pole (VGP) dispersion and comparisons of directional distributions with simulations from two statistical models. Regionally, the Hawaii and Reunion data sets lack transitional magnetic directions and have similar inclination anomalies and VGP dispersion. In the Pacific hemisphere, Hawaii has a large inclination anomaly, and the South Pacific exhibits high PSV. The deviation of the TAF from a GAD contradicts earlier ideas of a "Pacific dipole window,'' and the strong regional PSV in the South Pacific contrasts with the generally low secular variation found on short timescales. The TAF and PSV at Hawaii and Reunion are distinct from values for the South Pacific and Mexico, demonstrating the need for time-averaged and paleosecular variation models that can describe nonzonal field structures. Investigations of zonal statistical PSV models reveal that recent models are incompatible with the empirical +/-20 degrees directional distributions and cannot fit the data by simply adjusting relative variance contributions to the PSV. The +/-20 degrees latitude data set also suggests less PSV and smaller persistent deviations from a geocentric axial dipole field during the Brunhes.

Cromwell, G, Johnson CL, Tauxe L, Constable CG, Jarboe NA.  2018.  PSV10: A global data set for 0-10 Ma time-averaged field and paleosecular variation studies. Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems. 19:1533-1558.   10.1002/2017gc007318   AbstractWebsite

Globally distributed paleomagnetic data from discrete volcanic sites have previously been used for statistical studies of paleosecular variation and the structure of the time-averaged field. We present a new data compilation, PSV10, selected from high-quality paleodirections recorded over the past 10 Ma and comprising 2,401 sites from 81 studies. We require the use of modern laboratory and processing methods, a minimum of four samples per site, and within-site Fisher precision parameter, k(w), 50. Studies that identify significant tectonic effects or explicitly target transitional field states are excluded, thereby reducing oversampling of transitional time intervals. Additionally, we apply two approaches using geological evidence to minimize effects of short-term serial correlation. PSV10 is suitable for use in new global geomagnetic and paleomagnetic studies as it has greatly improved spatial coverage of sites, especially at equatorial and high latitudes. VGP dispersion is latitudinally dependent, with substantially higher values in the Southern Hemisphere than at corresponding northern latitudes when no VGP cutoff is imposed. Average inclination anomalies for 10 degrees latitude bins range from about +32 degrees to -7.52 degrees for the entire data set, with the largest negative values occurring at equatorial and mid-northern latitudes. New 0-5 Ma TAF models (LN3 and LN3-SC) based on selections of normal polarity data from PSV10 indicate a Non-zonal variations in field structure are observed near the magnetic equator and in regions of increased radial flux at high latitudes over the Americas, the Indian Ocean, and Asia.

Johnson, CL, Constable CG, Tauxe L, Barendregt R, Brown LL, Coe RS, Layer P, Mejia V, Opdyke ND, Singer BS, Staudigel H, Stone DB.  2008.  Recent investigations of the 0-5 Ma geomagnetic field recorded by lava flows. Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems. 9   10.1029/2007gc001696   AbstractWebsite

We present a synthesis of 0 - 5 Ma paleomagnetic directional data collected from 17 different locations under the collaborative Time Averaged geomagnetic Field Initiative ( TAFI). When combined with regional compilations from the northwest United States, the southwest United States, Japan, New Zealand, Hawaii, Mexico, South Pacific, and the Indian Ocean, a data set of over 2000 sites with high quality, stable polarity, and declination and inclination measurements is obtained. This is a more than sevenfold increase over similar quality data in the existing Paleosecular Variation of Recent Lavas (PSVRL) data set, and has greatly improved spatial sampling. The new data set spans 78 degrees S to 53 degrees N, and has sufficient temporal and spatial sampling to allow characterization of latitudinal variations in the time-averaged field (TAF) and paleosecular variation (PSV) for the Brunhes and Matuyama chrons, and for the 0 - 5 Ma interval combined. The Brunhes and Matuyama chrons exhibit different TAF geometries, notably smaller departures from a geocentric axial dipole field during the Brunhes, consistent with higher dipole strength observed from paleointensity data. Geographical variations in PSV are also different for the Brunhes and Matuyama. Given the high quality of our data set, polarity asymmetries in PSV and the TAF cannot be attributed to viscous overprints, but suggest different underlying field behavior, perhaps related to the influence of long-lived core-mantle boundary conditions on core flow. PSV, as measured by dispersion of virtual geomagnetic poles, shows less latitudinal variation than predicted by current statistical PSV models, or by previous data sets. In particular, the Brunhes data reported here are compatible with a wide range of models, from those that predict constant dispersion as a function of latitude to those that predict an increase in dispersion with latitude. Discriminating among such models could be helped by increased numbers of low-latitude data and new high northern latitude sites. Tests with other data sets, and with simulations, indicate that some of the latitudinal signature previously observed in VGP dispersion can be attributed to the inclusion of low-quality, insufficiently cleaned data with too few samples per site. Our Matuyama data show a stronger dependence of dispersion on latitude than the Brunhes data. The TAF is examined using the variation of inclination anomaly with latitude. Best fit two- parameter models have axial quadrupole contributions of 2 - 4% of the axial dipole term, and axial octupole contributions of 1 - 5%. Approximately 2% of the octupole signature is likely the result of bias incurred by averaging unit vectors.

Korte, M, Brown MC, Gunnarson SR, Nilsson A, Panovska S, Wardinski I, Constable CG.  2019.  Refining Holocene geochronologies using palaeomagnetic records. Quaternary Geochronology. 50:47-74.   10.1016/j.quageo.2018.11.004   AbstractWebsite

The aperiodic nature of geomagnetic field variations, both in intensity and direction, can aid in dating archaeological artefacts, volcanic rocks, and sediment records that carry a palaeomagnetic signal. The success of palaeomagnetic dating relies upon our knowledge of past field variations at specific locations. Regional archaeo- and palaeomagnetic reference curves and predictions from global geomagnetic field models provide our best description of field variations through the Holocene. State-of-the-art palaeomagnetic laboratory practices and accurate independent age controls are prerequisites for deriving reliable reference curves and models from archaeological, volcanic, and sedimentary palaeomagnetic data. In this review paper we give an overview of these prerequisites and the available reference curves and models, discuss techniques for palaeomagnetic dating, and outline its limitations. In particular, palaeomagnetic dating on its own cannot give unique results, but rather serves to refine or confirm ages obtained by other methods. Owing to the non-uniform character of magnetic field variations in different regions, care is required when choosing a palaeomagnetic dating curve, so that the distance between the dating curve and the record to be dated is not too large. Accurate reporting and incorporation of new, independently dated archaeo- and palaeomagnetic results into databases will help to improve reference curves and global models for all regions on Earth.

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.

McMillan, DG, Constable CG, Parker RL, Glatzmaier GA.  2001.  A statistical analysis of magnetic fields from some geodynamo simulations. Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems. 2:art.no.-2000GC000130. AbstractWebsite

We present a statistical analysis of magnetic fields simulated by the Glatzmaier-Roberts dynamically consistent dynamo model. For four simulations with distinct boundary conditions, means, standard deviations, and probability functions permit an evaluation based on existing statistical paleosecular variation (PSV) models. Although none closely fits the statistical PSV models in all respects, some simulations display characteristics of the statistical PSV models in individual tests. We also find that nonzonal field statistics do not necessarily reflect heat flow conditions at the core-mantle boundary. Multitaper estimates of power and coherence spectra allow analysis of time series of single, or groups of, spherical harmonic coefficients representing the magnetic fields of the dynamo simulations outside the core. Sliding window analyses of both power and coherence spectra from two of the simulations show that a 100 kyr averaging time is necessary to realize stationary statistics of their nondipole fields and that a length of 350 kyr is not long enough to full characterize their dipole fields. Spectral analysis provides new insight into the behavior and interaction of the dominant components of the simulated magnetic fields, the axial dipole and quadrupole. Although we find spectral similarities between several reversals, there is no evidence of signatures that can be conclusively associated with reversals or excursions. We test suggestions that during reversals there is increased coupling between groups of spherical harmonic components. Despite evidence of coupling between antisymmetric and symmetric spherical harmonics in one simulation, we conclude that it is rare and not directly linked to reversals. In contrast to the reversal model of R. T. Merrill and P. L. McFadden, we demonstrate that the geomagnetic power in the dipole part of the dynamo simulations is either relatively constant or fluctuates synchronously with that of the nondipole part and that coupling between antisymmetric and symmetric components occurs when the geomagnetic power is high.