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2012
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.

2011
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.

2008
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.

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.

2005
Korte, M, Constable CG.  2005.  The geomagnetic dipole moment over the last 7000 years - new results from a global model. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 236:348-358.   10.1016/j.epsl.2004.12.031   AbstractWebsite

Evolution of the geomagnetic field's dipole strength is studied by geomagnetists from global spherical harmonic models and by paleomagnetists using virtual (axial) dipole moments (VDM, VADM). Based on a recently published global model of the past 7000 yr we study whether these three dipole moment descriptions can be considered equivalent, and compare the results to previous global VADM studies and recent global model dipole moments. We conclude that VADM and VDM results averaged over centennial and millennial time scales are systematically higher than the true dipole moment by about 19%. The current dipole decrease is part of a process that has been going on for about 1700 yr. The average rate of decrease is lower than the current one, but has varied significantly so that the current rate cannot be regarded as exceptional. (c) 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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.

1998
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.

1995
Johnson, CL, Constable CG.  1995.  The Time-Averaged Geomagnetic-Field As Recorded By Lava Flows Over The Past 5 Million-Years. Geophysical Journal International. 122:489-519.   10.1111/j.1365-246X.1995.tb07010.x   AbstractWebsite

A recently compiled lava flow data base spanning the last 5 million years is used to investigate properties of the time-averaged geomagnetic field. More than 90 per cent of the power in the palaeofield can be accounted for by a geocentric axial dipole; however, there are significant second-order structures in the held. Declination and inclination anomalies for the new data base indicate that the main second-order signal is the 'far-sided' effect, and there is also evidence for non-zonal structure. VGP (virtual geomagnetic pole) latitude distributions indicate that, over the last 5 million years, normal and reverse polarity morphologies are different, and that any changes in the normal polarity field morphology are undetectable, given the present data distribution. Regularized non-linear inversions of the palaeomagnetic directions support all these observations. We test the hypothesis that zonal models for the time-averaged field are adequate to describe the data and find that they are not. Non-zonal models are needed to fit the data to within the required tolerance level. Normal and reverse polarity held models obtained are significantly different. Field models obtained for the Brunhes epoch data alone are much smoother than those obtained from combining an the normal polarity data; simulations indicate that these differences can be explained by the less extensive data distribution for the Brunhes epoch. The field model for all of the normal polarity data (LN1) contains features observed in the historical field maps, although the details differ. LN1 suggests that, although the two northern hemisphere flux lobes observed in the historical field are stationary to a first-order approximation, they do show changes in position and amplitude. A. third, less pronounced flux lobe is observed in LN1 over central Europe. The lack of structure ih the southern hemisphere is due in part to the paucity of data. Jackknife estimates of the field models for different subsets of the data suggest that a few sites contribute significant structure to the final field models. More conservative estimates of the time-averaged field morphology are obtained by removing these sites.