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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.

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

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.

Donadini, F, Korte M, Constable C.  2010.  Millennial Variations of the Geomagnetic Field: from Data Recovery to Field Reconstruction. Space Science Reviews. 155:219-246.   10.1007/s11214-010-9662-y   AbstractWebsite

Variations of the geomagnetic field over past millennia can be determined from archeomagnetic data and paleomagnetic sediment records. The resolution and validity of any field reconstruction depends on the reliability of such indirect measurements of past field values. Considerable effort is invested to ensure that the magnetic minerals carrying the ancient magnetization are good, if not ideal, recorders of the magnetic field. This is achieved by performing a wide array of rock magnetic and microscopy investigations, many of which are outlined here. In addition to data quality, the spatial and temporal distributions of archeomagnetic and sediment records play a significant role in the accuracy of past field reconstruction. Global field reconstructions enable studies of dynamic processes in Earth's core. They rely on data compilations which ideally include information about the quality of a measurement and provide a useful archive for selecting data with the best characteristics. There is, however, a trade off between the total number of reliable data and the geographic or temporal coverage. In this review we describe the various types of paleomagnetic recorders, and the kind of measurements that are performed to gather reliable geomagnetic field information. We show which modeling strategies are most suitable, and the main features of the field that can be derived from the resulting models. Finally, we discuss prospects for progress in this kind of research.

Donadini, F, Korte M, Constable CG.  2009.  Geomagnetic field for 0-3 ka: 1. New data sets for global modeling. Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems. 10   10.1029/2008gc002295   AbstractWebsite

Paleomagnetic and archeomagnetic records are used in both regional and global studies of Earth's magnetic field. We present a description and assessment of five newly compiled data sets, also used in the companion paper by Korte et al. (2009) to produce a series of time-varying spherical harmonic models of the geomagnetic field for the last 3000 years. Data are drawn from our compilation of lake sediment records and from the online database, GEOMAGIA50v2. The five selections are available from the EarthRef Digital Archive at Data are grouped according to the source of material, and we conducted separate assessments of reliability for archeomagnetic artifacts and lava flows (the ARCH3k_dat data set) and for sediments (SED3k_dat). The overall number of data is 55% greater than in previous compilations. Constrained data sets were selected using different criteria for each group. Winnowing of archeological data was based on uncertainties supplied by the original data providers. The lake sediment data assessment relied on preassigned age uncertainties and one or more of the following: comparisons with archeomagnetic data from the same region, regional consistency among several lakes, and consistency with global archeomagnetic models. We discuss relative merits of a larger unconstrained data set or a smaller (possibly) more reliable one. The constrained data sets eliminate a priori up to 35% of the available data in each case and rely on potentially subjective assessments of data quality. Given the limited data available our analyses indicate that iterative rejection of a small number (1-1.5%) of outlying data during global field modeling is a preferable approach. Specific regional comparisons among the models and data support the conclusion that Korte et al.'s outlier-free CALS3k.3 model based on all available measurements from sediments and archeological artifacts currently provides the best global representation of the 0-3 ka field; the ARCH3k.1 model provides a better fit to the denser European archeomagnetic data and may be better in that region.

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.

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.

Korte, M, Constable CG.  2005.  Continuous geomagnetic field models for the past 7 millennia: 2. CALS7K. Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems. 6   10.1029/2004gc000801   AbstractWebsite

We present two continuous global geomagnetic field models for recent millennia: CALS3K.2, covering the past 3000 years, and CALS7K.2, covering 7000 years from 5000 BC to 1950 AD. The models were determined by regularized least squares inversion of archeomagnetic and paleomagnetic data using spherical harmonics in space and cubic B splines in time. They are derived from a greatly increased number of paleomagnetic directional data, compared to previous efforts, and for the first time a significant amount of archeointensity data is used in this kind of global model, allowing the determination of evolution of geomagnetic dipole strength. While data accuracy and dating uncertainties remain a limitation, reliable low-resolution global models can be obtained. The results agree well with previous results from virtual axial dipole moment (VADM) studies from archeomagnetic intensity data apart from a systematic offset in strength. A comparison of model predictions with the previous 3000 year model, CALS3K.1, gives general agreement but also some significant differences particularly for the early epochs. The new models suggest that the prominent two northern hemisphere flux lobes are more stationary than CALS3K.1 implied, extending considerably the time span of stationary flux lobes observed in historical models. Between 5000 BC and 2000 BC there are time intervals of weak dipole moment where dipole power is exceeded by low-degree nondipole power at the core-mantle boundary.