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Panovska, S, Korte M, Finlay CC, Constable CG.  2015.  Limitations in paleomagnetic data and modelling techniques and their impact on Holocene geomagnetic field models. Geophysical Journal International. 202:402-418.   10.1093/gji/ggv137   AbstractWebsite

Characterization of geomagnetic field behaviour on timescales of centuries to millennia is necessary to understand the mechanisms that sustain the geodynamo and drive its evolution. As Holocene paleomagnetic and archeomagnetic data have become more abundant, strategies for regularized inversion of modern field data have been adapted to produce numerous time-varying global field models. We evaluate the effectiveness of several approaches to inversion and data handling, by assessing both global and regional properties of the resulting models. Global Holocene field models cannot resolve Southern hemisphere regional field variations without the use of sediments. A standard data set is used to construct multiple models using two different strategies for relative paleointensity calibration and declination orientation and a selection of starting models in the inversion procedure. When data uncertainties are considered, the results are similar overall regardless of whether we use iterative calibration and reorientation, or co-estimation of the calibration and orientation parameters as part of the inversion procedure. In each case the quality of the starting model used for initial relative paleointensity calibration and declination orientation is crucial and must be based on the best absolute information available. Without adequate initial calibration the morphology of dipole moment variations can be recovered but its absolute value will be correlated with the initial intensity calibrations, an effect that might be mitigated by ensuring an appropriate fit to enough high quality absolute intensity data with low uncertainties. The declination reorientation mainly impacts regional field structure and in the presence of non-zonal fields will result in a non-zero local average. The importance of declination orientation is highlighted by inconsistencies in the West Pacific and Australian sediment records in CALS10k.1b model. Great care must also be taken to assess uncertainties associated with both paleomagnetic and age data and to evaluate the effects of poor data distribution. New consistently allocated uncertainty estimates for sediment paleomagnetic records highlight the importance of adequate uncertainties in the inversion process, as they determine the relative weighting among the data and overall normalized misfit levels which in turn influence the complexity of the inferred field models. Residual distributions suggest that the most appropriate misfit measure is the L-1 norm (minimum absolute deviation) rather than L-2 (least squares), but this seems to have relatively minor impact on the overall results. For future Holocene field modelling we see a need for comprehensive methods to assess uncertainty in individual archeomagnetic data so that these data or models derived from them can be used for reliable initial relative paleointensity calibration and declination orientation in sediments. More work will be needed to assess whether co-estimation or an iterative approach to inversion is more efficient overall. This would be facilitated by realistic and globally consistent data and age uncertainties from the paleomagnetic community.

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.

Smith-Boughner, LT, Constable CG.  2012.  Spectral estimation for geophysical time-series with inconvenient gaps. Geophysical Journal International. 190:1404-1422.   10.1111/j.1365-246X.2012.05594.x   AbstractWebsite

The power of spectral estimation as a tool for studying geophysical processes is often limited by short records or breaks in available time-series. Direct spectral estimation using multitaper techniques designed to reduce variance and minimize leakage can help alleviate the first problem. For records with gaps, systematic interpolation or averaging of multitaper spectra derived from record fragments may prove adequate in some cases, but can be cumbersome to implement. Alternatively, multitapers can be modified for use in direct spectral estimation with intermittently sampled data. However, their performance has not been adequately studied. We investigate reliability and resolution of techniques that adapt prolate and minimum bias (MB) multitapers to accommodate the longest breaks in sampling, comparing the tapering functions (referred to as PRG or MBG tapers) with the standard prolate and MB tapers used for complete data series, and with the section-averaging approach. Using a synthetic data set, we test both jackknife and bootstrap methods to calculate confidence intervals for PRG and MBG multitaper spectral estimates and find the jackknife is both more accurate and faster to compute. To implement these techniques for a variety of data sets, we provide an algorithm that allows the user to balance judicious interpolation against the use of suitably adapted tapers, providing empirical measures of both bias and frequency resolution for candidate sets of tapers. These techniques are tested on diverse geophysical data sets: a record of change in the length of day, a model of the external dipole part of the geomagnetic field produced by the magnetospheric ring current, and a 12 Myr long irregularly sampled relative geomagnetic palaeointensity record with pernicious gaps. We conclude that both PRG and MBG tapers generally perform as well as, or better than, an optimized form of the commonly used section averaging approach. The greatest improvements seem to occur when the gap structure creates data segments of very unequal lengths. Ease of computation and more robust behaviour can make MBG tapers a better choice than PRG except when very fine-scale frequency resolution is required. These techniques could readily be applied for cross-spectral and transfer function estimation and are a useful addition to the geophysical toolbox.

Ziegler, LB, Constable CG, Johnson CL, Tauxe L.  2011.  PADM2M: a penalized maximum likelihood model of the 0-2 Ma palaeomagnetic axial dipole moment. Geophysical Journal International. 184:1069-1089.   10.1111/j.1365-246X.2010.04905.x   AbstractWebsite

P>We present a new time-varying model for palaeomagnetic axial dipole moment (PADM) for the past 2 Myr and compare it with earlier virtual axial dipole moment (VADM) reconstructions which have been based on stacking and averaging scaled relative palaeointensity records. The PADM is derived from both absolute and relative palaeointensity data and constructed using a new penalized maximum likelihood (PML) approach to recover a cubic B-spline representation of axial-dipole field variations on million year timescales. The PML method is explicitly intended to reduce bias in estimating the true axial dipole moment that arises in average VADM reconstructions. We apply the PML method to a set of 96 032 published data (1800 palaeointensities from igneous rocks, 3300 archaeointensities and 86 relative palaeointensity time-series of variable lengths and resolutions). Two models are discussed: PADM2Mp is a trial model based on a subset of the nine longest available sedimentary records; PADM2M uses a comprehensive data set (76 records, 81 446 data; 10 records were eliminated) and is our preferred model. PADM2M has a lower mean than existing VADM reconstructions but shows similarities in long-period variability. Some differences in timing, amplitude and resolution of certain features can be attributed to variations in age assignments. Others result from our more comprehensive data set and a reduction in bias attributable to PML modelling. PADM2M has an average axial dipole moment over 0-2 Ma of 5.3 x 1022 Am2 with a standard deviation of 1.5 x 1022 Am2. The Brunhes chron average (6.2 x 1022 Am2) is higher than for earlier epochs of Matuyama (4.8 x 1022 Am2), as seen in some previous studies. The power spectrum for our model agrees with previous estimates of the global palaeomagnetic power spectrum for frequencies up to about 102 Myr-1. We see no distinctive evidence in the power spectrum for orbital forcing of geodynamo behaviour.

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.

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.