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Korte, M, Constable CG.  2018.  Archeomagnetic intensity spikes: Global or regional geomagnetic field features? Frontiers in Earth Science. 6   10.3389/feart.2018.00017   AbstractWebsite

Variations of the geomagnetic field prior to direct observations are inferred from archeo- and paleomagnetic experiments. Seemingly unusual variations not seen in the present-day and historical field are of particular interest to constrain the full range of core dynamics. Recently, archeomagnetic intensity spikes, characterized by very high field values that appear to be associated with rapid secular variation rates, have been reported from several parts of the world. They were first noted in data from the Levant at around 900 BCE. A recent re-assessment of previous and new Levantine data, involving a rigorous quality assessment, interprets the observations as an extreme local geomagnetic high with at least two intensity spikes between the 11th and 8th centuries BCE. Subsequent reports of similar features from Asia, the Canary Islands and Texas raise the question of whether such features might be common occurrences, or whether they might even be part of a global magnetic field feature. Here we use spherical harmonic modeling to test two hypotheses: firstly, whether the Levantine and other potential spikes might be associated with higher dipole field intensity than shown by existing global field models around 1,000 BCE, and secondly, whether the observations from different parts of the world are compatible with a westward drifting intense flux patch. Our results suggest that the spikes originate from intense flux patches growing and decaying mostly in situ, combined with stronger and more variable dipole moment than shown by previous global field models. Axial dipole variations no more than 60% higher than observed in the present field, probably within the range of normal geodynamo behavior, seem sufficient to explain the observations.

Constable, C, Korte M, Panovska S.  2016.  Persistent high paleosecular variation activity in southern hemisphere for at least 10,000 years. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 453:78-86.   10.1016/j.epsl.2016.08.015   AbstractWebsite

Direct observations of the geomagnetic field show that secular variation is strong in the Atlantic hemisphere, and comparatively reduced in the Pacific region. The dipole has been decaying since at least 1840 AD, driven by growth and migration of reverse flux patches in the southern hemisphere. We investigate whether anything like this modern pattern of geomagnetic secular variation persists and can be detected in global paleomagnetic field models. Synthesis of results from two new time-varying spherical harmonic models shows that geographically distinct geomagnetic secular variation extends to at least 10000 BP. The models use the same database but differ in methodology, leading to some regional differences in results. Consistent large-scale surface features include strong average fields in the northern hemisphere and weaker fields with greater overall variability in the south. Longitudinal structure is present, with weaker average fields in the western Pacific than in the east, and prominent negative inclination anomalies extending beneath Indonesia, across Africa and to Brazil, but weaker anomalies in the central Pacific. Marginally positive inclination anomalies occur west of the Americas. Paleosecular variation activity peaks at high southern latitudes, and there is a pattern of reduced activity at equatorial and mid-latitudes beneath the Pacific. Although the dipole has exhibited both growth and decay over the interval 0-10 000 BP, our results show that geomagnetic paleosecular variation is preferentially focused in similar geographic regions to secular variation seen in the modern field. (C) 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V.

Ziegler, LB, Constable CG.  2015.  Testing the geocentric axial dipole hypothesis using regional paleomagnetic intensity records from 0 to 300 ka. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 423:48-56.   10.1016/j.epsl.2015.04.022   AbstractWebsite

Absolute and relative geomagnetic paleointensity records reveal variations in geomagnetic dipole strength, either via averaging time series of virtual axial dipole moments, or through formal inversion strategies like the penalized maximum likelihood (PML) method used for the PADM2M (Paleomagnetic Axial Dipole Moment for 0-2 Ma) model. However, departures from the most basic geocentric axial dipole (GAD) structure are obvious on centennial to millennial time scales, and paleomagnetic records from igneous rocks suggest small deviations persist on million year time scales. Spatial variations in heat flow at the core-mantle boundary (inferred from large low shear velocity provinces, LLSVPs) are widely suspected to influence both the average geomagnetic field and its regional secular variation. Long term departures from a GAD configuration should be visible from regional differences in paleointensity reconstructions. We use a PML method to construct time-varying models of regional axial dipole moment (RADMs) from a combined set of absolute and relative palebintensity data, and compare results from the last 300 kyr. RADMs are created from sediment records selected from specific latitude and longitude bands. We also test whether grouping records lying above each of the 2 major LLSVPs (centered on Africa and the Pacific) produce RADMs that are distinct from those above regions lacking anomalous seismic structure. Systematic differences appear in the various regional results. In the most recent part of the record regional differences are broadly similar to the Holocene, CALS10k.1b, time-varying geomagnetic field model spanning 0-10 ka. However, lack of Southern hemisphere records prevents direct confirmation of the hemispheric asymmetry present in CALS10k.1b in both average virtual axial dipole moment and its variability. As expected, the 300 kyr RADMs exhibit greater overall temporal field variability than is seen over 0-10 ka. Average RADM is higher in the Pacific and in Equatorial regions than in the Atlantic and in mid-high latitude northern hemisphere regions. Higher average RADMs are associated with lower overall field variability and less pronounced excursional signatures. Notably, the lower variability in the Pacific sector seen here (defined by either longitude band or LLSVP location) suggests that the modern low paleosecular variation there extends over at least the past few hundred thousand years. RADMs identified with LLSVPs show systematic deviations from the non-LLSVP group of records, with distinct characteristics for the African and Pacific provinces. The African LLSVP generates more pronounced RADM minima associated with geomagnetic excursions, and in general paleointensity decreases associated with excursions occur first in the Atlantic longitude sector and over the African LLSVP. (C) 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Brown, MC, Donadini F, Korte M, Nilsson A, Korhonen K, Lodge A, Lengyel SN, Constable CG.  2015.  GEOMAGIA50.v3: 1. general structure and modifications to the archeological and volcanic database. Earth Planets and Space. 67:1-31.   10.1186/s40623-015-0232-0   AbstractWebsite

Background: GEOMAGIA50.v3 is a comprehensive online database providing access to published paleomagnetic, rock magnetic, and chronological data from a variety of materials that record Earth's magnetic field over the past 50 ka. Findings: Since its original release in 2006, the structure and function of the database have been updated and a significant number of data have been added. Notable modifications are the following: (1) the inclusion of additional intensity, directional and metadata from archeological and volcanic materials and an improved documentation of radiocarbon dates; (2) a new data model to accommodate paleomagnetic, rock magnetic, and chronological data from lake and marine sediments; (3) a refinement of the geographic constraints in the archeomagnetic/volcanic query allowing selection of particular locations; (4) more flexible methodological and statistical constraints in the archeomagnetic/volcanic query; (5) the calculation of predictions of the Holocene geomagnetic field from a series of time varying global field models; (6) searchable reference lists; and (7) an updated web interface. This paper describes general modifications to the database and specific aspects of the archeomagnetic and volcanic database. The reader is referred to a companion publication for a description of the sediment database. Conclusions: The archeomagnetic and volcanic part of GEOMAGIA50.v3 currently contains 14,645 data (declination, inclination, and paleointensity) from 461 studies published between 1959 and 2014. We review the paleomagnetic methods used to obtain these data and discuss applications of the data within the database. The database continues to expand as legacy data are added and new studies published. The web-based interface can be found at

Brown, MC, Donadini F, Nilsson A, Panovska S, Frank U, Korhonen K, Schuberth M, Korte M, Constable CG.  2015.  GEOMAGIA50.v3: 2. A new paleomagnetic database for lake and marine sediments. Earth Planets and Space. 67   10.1186/s40623-015-0233-z   AbstractWebsite

Background: GEOMAGIA50.v3 for sediments is a comprehensive online database providing access to published paleomagnetic, rock magnetic, and chronological data obtained from lake and marine sediments deposited over the past 50 ka. Its objective is to catalogue data that will improve our understanding of changes in the geomagnetic field, physical environments, and climate. Findings: GEOMAGIA50.v3 for sediments builds upon the structure of the pre-existing GEOMAGIA50 database for magnetic data from archeological and volcanic materials. A strong emphasis has been placed on the storage of geochronological data, and it is the first magnetic archive that includes comprehensive radiocarbon age data from sediments. The database will be updated as new sediment data become available. Conclusions: The web-based interface for the sediment database is located at This paper is a companion to Brown et al. (Earth Planets Space doi:10.1186/s40623-015-0232-0,2015) and describes the data types, structure, and functionality of the sediment database.

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 C, Donadini F, Holme R.  2011.  Reconstructing the Holocene geomagnetic field. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 312:497-505.   10.1016/j.epsl.2011.10.031   AbstractWebsite

Knowledge of the Holocene evolution of Earth's magnetic field is important for understanding geodynamo processes in the core, is necessary for studying long-term solar-terrestrial relationships, and can provide useful age constraints for archeologicaland stratigraphic applications. Continuous time-varying global field models based on archeo- and paleomagnetic data are useful tools in this regard. We use a comprehensive data compilation and recently refined modelling strategies to produce CALS10k.1b, the first time-varying spherical harmonic geomagnetic field model spanning 10 ky. The model is an average obtained from bootstrap sampling to take account of uncertainties in magnetic components and ages in the data (and hence has version number 1b instead of 1). This model shows less spatial and temporal resolution than earlier versions for 0-3 ka, and particularly aims to provide a robust representation of the large-scale field at the core-mantle boundary (CMB). We discuss the geomagnetic dipole evolution and changes in Holocene magnetic field morphology at the CMB as shown by the new reconstruction. The results are compatible with earlier models (CALS3k.3 and CALS3k.4) for 0-3 ka, but reveal some clear deficiencies in the 0-7 ka CALS7K.2 model prior to 3 ka. CALS10k.1b is able to resolve mobile and structurally-evolving high latitude radial field flux lobes at the CMB in both hemispheres, as well as persistent non-zonal structure, in the 10 ky average. Contributions to the average field from time-varying structures in the equatorial Indonesian-Australian region are particularly striking. (C) 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Hulot, G, Finlay CC, Constable CG, Olsen N, Mandea M.  2010.  The Magnetic Field of Planet Earth. Space Science Reviews. 152:159-222.   10.1007/s11214-010-9644-0   AbstractWebsite

The magnetic field of the Earth is by far the best documented magnetic field of all known planets. Considerable progress has been made in our understanding of its characteristics and properties, thanks to the convergence of many different approaches and to the remarkable fact that surface rocks have quietly recorded much of its history. The usefulness of magnetic field charts for navigation and the dedication of a few individuals have also led to the patient construction of some of the longest series of quantitative observations in the history of science. More recently even more systematic observations have been made possible from space, leading to the possibility of observing the Earth's magnetic field in much more details than was previously possible. The progressive increase in computer power was also crucial, leading to advanced ways of handling and analyzing this considerable corpus of data. This possibility, together with the recent development of numerical simulations, has led to the development of a very active field in Earth science. In this paper, we make an attempt to provide an overview of where the scientific community currently stands in terms of observing, interpreting and understanding the past and present behavior of the so-called main magnetic field produced within the Earth's core. The various types of data are introduced and their specific properties explained. The way those data can be used to derive the time evolution of the core field, when this is possible, or statistical information, when no other option is available, is next described. Special care is taken to explain how information derived from each type of data can be patched together into a consistent description of how the core field has been behaving in the past. Interpretations of this behavior, from the shortest (1 yr) to the longest (virtually the age of the Earth) time scales are finally reviewed, underlining the respective roles of the magnetohydodynamics at work in the core, and of the slow dynamic evolution of the planet as a whole.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Korte, M, Constable C.  2003.  Continuous global geomagnetic field models for the past 3000 years. Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors. 140:73-89.   10.1016/j.pepi.2003.07.013   AbstractWebsite

Several global geomagnetic field models exist for recent decades, but due to limited data availability models for several centuries to millennia are rare. We present a continuous spherical harmonic model for almost 3 millennia from 1000 B.C. to 1800 A.D., based on a dataset of directional archaeo- and paleomagnetic data and axial dipole constraints. The model, named Continuous Archaeomagnetic and Lake Sediment Geomagnetic Model for the last 3k years (CALS3K.1), can be used to predict both the field and secular variation. Comparisons and tests with synthetic data lead to the conclusion that CALS3K.1 gives a good general, large-scale representation of the geomagnetic field, but lacks small-scale structure due to the limited resolution of the sparse dataset. In future applications the model can be used for comparisons with additional, new data for that time span. For better resolved regions, the agreement of data with CALS3K.1 will provide an idea about the general compatibility of the data with the field and secular variation in that region of the world. For poorly covered regions and time intervals we hope to iteratively improve the model by comparisons with and inclusion of new data. Animations and additional snapshot plots of model predictions as well as the model coefficients and a FORTRAN code to evaluate them for any time can be accessed under The whole package is also stored in the Earthref digital archive at (C) 2003 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

McMillan, DG, Constable CG, Parker RL.  2002.  Limitations on stratigraphic analyses due to incomplete age control and their relevance to sedimentary paleomagnetism. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 201:509-523.   10.1016/s0012-821x(02)00747-1   AbstractWebsite

A major limitation in the analysis of physical quantities measured from a stratigraphic core is incomplete knowledge of the depth to age relationship for the core. Records derived from diverse locations are often compared or combined to construct records that represent a global signal. Time series analysis of individual or combined records is commonly employed to seek quasi-periodic components or characterize the timescales of relevant physical processes. Assumptions that are frequently made in the approximation of depth to age relationships can have a dramatic and harmful effect on the spectral content of records from stratigraphic cores. A common procedure for estimating ages in a set of samples from a stratigraphic core is to assign, based on complementary data, the ages at a number of depths (tie points) and then assume a uniform accumulation rate between the tie points. Imprecisely dated or misidentified tie points and naturally varying accumulation rates give rise to discrepancies between the inferred and the actual ages of a sample. We develop a statistical model for age uncertainties in stratigraphic cores that treats the true, but in practice unknown, ages of core samples as random variables. For inaccuracies in the ages of tie points, we draw the error from a zero-mean normal distribution. For a variable accumulation rate, we require the actual ages of a sequence of samples to be monotonically increasing and the age errors to have the form of a Brownian bridge. That is, the errors are zero at the tie points. The actual ages are modeled by integrating a piecewise constant, randomly varying accumulation rate. In each case, our analysis yields closed form expressions for the expected value and variance of resulting errors in age at any depth in the core. By Monte Carlo simulation with plausible parameters, we find that age errors across a paleomagnetic record due to misdated tie points are likely of the same order as the tie point discrepancies. Those due to accumulation rate variations can be as large as 30 kyr, but are probably less than 10 kyr. We provide a method by which error estimates like these can be made for similar stratigraphic dating problems and apply our statistical model to an idealized marine sedimentary paleomagnetic record. Both types of errors severely degrade the spectral content of the inferred record. We quantify these effects using realistic tie point ages, their uncertainties and depositional parameters. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

Cronin, M, Tauxe L, Constable C, Selkin P, Pick T.  2001.  Noise in the quiet zone. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 190:13-30.   10.1016/s0012-821x(01)00354-5   AbstractWebsite

We have carried out a detailed paleomagnetic investigation of two stratigraphically overlapping sections from the Scaglia Bianca Formation (similar to 85-89.5 Ma) in the Umbria-Marche area in central Italy. Sampling was conducted over 32 in and 7 in intervals at La Roccaccia and Furlo respectively. After AF cleaning the majority of specimens show the expected normal magnetic field orientation, however a number of specimens are directionally anomalous. Some of these deviant specimens are accompanied by apparent spikes or dips in normalized intensity. A detailed investigation of rock magnetics shows that most of these deviations are not a sign of excursionary geomagnetic field behavior, but rather correspond to specimens with distinct rock magnetic characteristics and are therefore rock magnetic 'noise'. Such specimens should not be interpreted as records of the geomagnetic field. Our experience suggests that detailed rock magnetic and magnetic fabric analysis should be done on all anomalous directions prior to interpreting them as geomagnetic field behavior. After elimination of rock magnetic noise in the Scaglia Bianca data sets, there is a high degree of agreement in direction and to a lesser extent relative intensity between correlative portions of the two sections. We therefore offer this data set as a robust record of geomagnetic field behavior during the 4.5 Myr interval represented by the La Roccaccia section. A statistical analysis of the relative intensity observations suggests that this period of the Cretaceous Normal Superchron is characterized by a normalized variability in paleointensity (standard deviation about 28% of the mean value) that is significantly lower than seen during the Oligocene over intervals in which reversals or tiny wiggles occur (typically about 50%). The directional stability results in virtual geomagnetic pole dispersion compatible with that found in volcanic rocks from around the same latitude and ranging in age from 80 to 110 Ma. (C) 2001 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

Johnson, CL, Wijbrans JR, Constable CG, Gee J, Staudigel H, Tauxe L, Forjaz VH, Salgueiro M.  1998.  Ar-40/Ar-39 ages and paleomagnetism of Sao Miguel lavas, Azores. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 160:637-649.   10.1016/s0012-821x(98)00117-4   AbstractWebsite

We present new Ar-40/Ar-39 ages and paleomagnetic data for Sao Miguel island, Azores. Paleomagnetic samples were obtained for 34 flows and one dike; successful mean paleomagnetic directions were obtained for 28 of these 35 sites. Ar-40/Ar-39 age determinations on 12 flows from the Nordeste complex were attempted successfully: ages obtained are between 0.78 Ma and 0.88 Ma, in contrast to published K-Ar ages of 1 Ma to 4 Ma. Our radiometric ages are consistent with the reverse polarity paleomagnetic field directions, and indicate that the entire exposed part of the Nordeste complex is of a late Matuyama age. The duration of volcanism across Sao Miguel is significantly less than previously believed, which has important implications for regional melt generation processes, and temporal sampling of the geomagnetic field. Observed stable isotope and trace element trends across the island can be explained, at least in part, by communication between different magma source regions at depth. The Ar-40/Ar-39 ages indicate that our normal polarity paleomagnetic data sample at least 0.1 Myr (0-0.1 Ma) and up to 0.78 Myr (0-0.78 Ma) of paleosecular variation and our reverse polarity data sample approximately 0.1 Myr (0.78-0.88 Ma) of paleosecular variation. Our results demonstrate that precise radiometric dating of numerous flows sampled is essential to accurate inferences of long-term geomagnetic field behavior. Negative inclination anomalies are observed for both the normal and reverse polarity time-averaged field. Within the data uncertainties, normal and reverse polarity field directions are antipodal, but the reverse polarity field shows a significant deviation from a geocentric axial dipole direction. (C) 1998 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

Constable, C, Tauxe L.  1996.  Towards absolute calibration of sedimentary paleointensity records. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 143:269-274.   10.1016/0012-821x(96)00128-8   AbstractWebsite

Using relative paleointensity estimates derived from twelve globally distributed pelagic sediment cores, we assess whether they record a signal consistent with that expected from a dominant geocentric axial dipole, The cores span the Matuyama-Brunhes boundary and we normalize the observations by supposing that at the time the direction reverses the intensity low reflects only the non-axial-dipole contribution to the field. We further assume that this non-axial-dipole contribution to the field is invariant with geographic location. From absolute paleointensity compilations we estimate its size to be about 7.5 mu T; this supplies the calibration for the axial dipole signal away from the extreme low in intensity, The data predict the dipole field variation with latitude with similar accuracy to that observed in absolute paleointensity records, and show similar behavior when transformed to virtual axial dipole moments.

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.