Publications

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2013
Buffett, BA, Ziegler L, Constable CG.  2013.  A stochastic model for palaeomagnetic field variations. Geophysical Journal International. 195:86-97.   10.1093/gji/ggt218   AbstractWebsite

Regeneration of the Earth's magnetic field by convection in the liquid core produces a broad spectrum of time variation. Relative palaeointensity measurements in marine sediments provide a detailed record over the past 2 Myr, but an explicit reconstruction of the underlying dynamics is not feasible. A more practical alternative is to construct a stochastic model from estimates of the virtual axial dipole moment. The deterministic part of the model (drift term) describes time-averaged behaviour, whereas the random part (diffusion term) characterizes complex interactions over convective timescales. We recover estimates of the drift and diffusion terms from the SINT2000 model of Valet et al. and the PADM2M model of Ziegler et al. The results are used in numerical solutions of the Fokker-Planck equation to predict statistical properties of the palaeomagnetic field, including the average rates of magnetic reversals and excursions. A physical interpretation of the stochastic model suggests that the timescale for adjustments in the axial dipole moment is set by the dipole decay time tau(d). We obtain tau(d) = 29 kyr from the stochastic models, which falls within the expected range for the Earth's core. We also predict the amplitude of convective fluctuations in the core, and establish a physical connection to the rates of magnetic reversals and excursions. Chrons lasting longer than 10 Myr are unlikely under present-day conditions. However, long chrons become more likely if the diffusion term is reduced by a factor of 2. Such a change is accomplished by reducing the velocity fluctuations in the core by a factor of root 2, which could be attributed to a shift in the spatial pattern of heat flux from the core or a reduction in the total core heat flow.

2011
Korte, M, Constable C.  2011.  Improving geomagnetic field reconstructions for 0-3 ka. Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors. 188:247-259.   10.1016/j.pepi.2011.06.017   AbstractWebsite

Global geomagnetic field reconstructions on millennial time scales can be based on comprehensive paleomagnetic data compilations but, especially for older data, these still suffer from limitations in data quality and age controls as well as poor temporal and spatial coverage. Here we present updated global models for the time interval 0-3 ka where additions to the data basis mainly impact the South-East Asian, Alaskan, and Siberian regions. We summarize recent progress in millennial scale modelling, documenting the cumulative results from incremental modifications to the standard algorithms used to produce regularized time-varying spherical harmonic models spanning 1000 BC to 1990 AD: from 1590 to 1990 AD gauss coefficients from the historical gufm1 model supplement the paleomagnetic information; in addition to absolute paleointensities, calibrated relative paleointensity data from sediments are now routinely included; iterative data rejection and recalibration of relative intensity records from sediments ensure stable results; bootstrap experiments to generate uncertainty estimates for the model take account of uncertainties in both age and magnetic elements and additionally assess the impact of sampling in both time and space. Based on averaged results from bootstrap experiments, taking account of data and age uncertainties, we distinguish more conservative model estimates CALS3k.nb representing robust field structure at the core-mantle boundary from relatively high resolution models CALS3k.n for model versions n = 3 and 4. We assess the impact of newly available data and modifications to the modelling method by comparing the previous CALS3k.3, the new CALS3k.4, and the conservative new model, CALS3k.4b. We conclude that with presently available data it is not feasible to produce a model that is equally suitable for relatively high-resolution field predictions at Earth's surface and robust reconstruction of field evolution, avoiding spurious structure, at the core-mantle boundary (CMB). We presently consider CALS3k.4 the best high resolution model and recommend the more conservative lower resolution version for studies of field evolution at the CMB. (C) 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

2009
Korte, M, Donadini F, Constable CG.  2009.  Geomagnetic field for 0-3 ka: 2. A new series of time-varying global models. Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems. 10   10.1029/2008gc002297   AbstractWebsite

Steadily increasing numbers of archeomagnetic and paleomagnetic data for the Holocene have allowed development of temporally continuous global spherical harmonic models of the geomagnetic field extending present and historical global descriptions of magnetic field evolution. The current work uses various subsets of improved data compilations, details of which are given in a companion paper by Donadini et al. (2009), and minor modifications of standard modeling strategies (using temporally and spatially regularized inversion of the data and cubic spline parameterizations for temporal variations) to produce five models with enhanced spatial and temporal resolution for 0-3 ka. Spurious end effects present in earlier models are eliminated by enforcing large-scale agreement with the gufm1 historical model for 1650-1990 A.D. and by extending the model range to accommodate data older than 3 ka. Age errors are not considered as a contribution to data uncertainties but are included along with data uncertainties in an investigation of statistical uncertainty estimates for the models using parametric bootstrap resampling techniques. We find common features but also significant differences among the various models, indicating intrinsic uncertainties in global models based on the currently available Holocene data. Model CALS3k.3 based on all available archeomagnetic and sediment data, without a priori quality selection, currently constitutes the best global representation of the past field. The new models have slightly higher dipole moments than our previous models. Virtual axial dipole moments (VADMs) calculated directly from the data are in good agreement with all corresponding model predictions of VADMs. These are always higher than the spherical harmonic dipole moment, indicating the limitations of using VADMs as a measure of geomagnetic dipole moments.

Lawrence, KP, Tauxe L, Staudigel H, Constable CG, Koppers A, McIntosh W, Johnson CL.  2009.  Paleomagnetic field properties at high southern latitude. Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems. 10   10.1029/2008gc002072   AbstractWebsite

Statistical analyses of paleomagnetic data from lava flows are used to study geomagnetic field behavior on million year timescales. Previous paleomagnetic studies have lacked high-latitude measurements necessary to investigate the persistence of geomagnetic anomalies observed in the recent and historical field and replicated in some numerical geodynamo simulations. These simulations suggest that reduced convective flow inside the tangent cylinder may affect the magnetic field at high latitude, whereas lower-latitude observations are expressions of columnar/helical flow outside the tangent cylinder. This paper presents new paleointensity and paleodirectional data from 100 volcanic sites in the Erebus Volcanic Province (EVP), Antarctica, and 21 new age determinations by the (40)Ar/(39)Ar incremental heating method. The new EVP data are combined with previously published paleomagnetic and geochronological results, providing 133 sites, 91 having radioisotopic dates. Modified Thellier-Thellier paleointensity estimates are reported for 47 sites (37 have dates). Ages for the combined data set span 0.03 to 13.42 Ma. The 125 high-quality EVP directional data selected from the merged data set have a non-Fisherian distribution and a mean direction with an inclination anomaly of similar to 3 degrees, but 95% confidence limits include the prediction from a geocentric axial dipole. Virtual geomagnetic pole (VGP) dispersions for Brunhes, Matuyama, and the combined 0-5 Ma data set are consistently high compared with values from middle-to low-latitude regions regardless of the criterion used to determine transitional fields. With VGP latitude cut off at 45 degrees, the dispersion (23.9 +/-2.1 degrees) for the combined 0-5 Ma EVP data set is consistent with earlier high-latitude data and paleosecular variation (PSV) in Model G but not with some more recent statistical PSV models. Mean EVP paleointensity of 31.5 +/-2.4 mu T, derived from 41 high-quality sites, is about half the current value at McMurdo (similar to 63 mu T). The result is essentially independent of data selection criteria. High VGP dispersion and low-intensity values support the global observation of anticorrelation between directional variability and field strength. Simulations of time-varying dipole strength show that uneven temporal sampling may bias the mean EVP intensity estimate, but the possibility of persistently anomalous field behavior at high latitude cannot be excluded.

2008
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.

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.

2003
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.

1996
Johnson, CL, Constable CG.  1996.  Palaeosecular variation recorded by lava flows over the past five million years. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London Series a-Mathematical Physical and Engineering Sciences. 354:89-141.   10.1098/rsta.1996.0004   AbstractWebsite

We present a new global palaeomagnetic database, comprising lava flows and thin intrusive bodies, suitable for studying palaeosecular variation and the time-averaged field. The database is presented in some detail in the appendix and is available oil-line from the authors. We review palaeosecular variation models to date, emphasizing the assumptions required and the rather arbitrary construction of many of these models, Preliminary studies of the statistical properties of the new database suggest that existing palaeosecular variation models are inadequate to explain the long-term temporal variations in the field. It is increasingly apparent that data distribution and duality are pivotal in determining the characteristics of the secular variation. The work presented here demonstrates the need for revised models of the time-averaged field structure for both normal and reverse polarities before reliable models for palaeosecular variation can be made.