Earth’s magnetic field, one of the most enigmatic physical phenomena of the planet, is constantly changing on various time scales, from decades to millennia and longer. The reconstruction of geomagnetic field behavior in periods predating direct observations with modern instrumentation is based on geological and archaeological materials and has the twin challenges of (i) the accuracy of ancient paleomagnetic estimates and (ii) the dating of the archaeological material. Here we address the latter by using a set of storage jar handles (fired clay) stamped by royal seals as part of the ancient administrative system in Judah (Jerusalem and its vicinity). The typology of the stamp impressions, which corresponds to changes in the political entities ruling this area, provides excellent age constraints for the firing event of these artifacts. Together with rigorous paleomagnetic experimental procedures, this study yielded an unparalleled record of the geomagnetic field intensity during the eighth to second centuries BCE. The new record constitutes a substantial advance in our knowledge of past geomagnetic field variations in the southern Levant. Although it demonstrates a relatively stable and gradually declining field during the sixth to second centuries BCE, the new record provides further support for a short interval of extreme high values during the late eighth century BCE. The rate of change during this “geomagnetic spike” [defined as virtual axial dipole moment > 160 ZAm2 (1021 Am2)] is further constrained by the new data, which indicate an extremely rapid weakening of the field (losing ∼27% of its strength over ca. 30 y).
Variations of the Earth’s geomagnetic field during the Holocene are important for understanding centennial to millennial-scale processes of the Earth’s deep interior and have enormous potential implications for chronological correlations (e.g., comparisons between different sedimentary recording sequences, archaeomagnetic dating). Here, we present 21 robust archaeointensity data points from eastern China spanning the past ∼6 kyr. These results add significantly to the published data both regionally and globally. Taking together, we establish an archaeointensity reference curve for Eastern Asia, which can be used for archaeomagnetic dating in this region. Virtual axial dipole moments (VADMs) of the data range from a Holocene-wide low of ∼27 to “spike” values of ∼166 ZAm2 (Z: 1021). The results, in conjunction with our recently published data, confirm the existence of a decrease in paleointensity (DIP) in China around ∼2200 BCE. These low intensities are the lowest ever found for the Holocene and have not been reported outside of China. We also report a spike intensity of 165.8 ± 6.0 ZAm2 at ∼1300 BCE (±300 y), which is either a prelude to or the same event (within age uncertainties) as spikes first reported in the Levant.
Studies of early Paleogene climate suffer from the scarcity of well-dated sedimentary records from the southern Pacific Ocean, the largest ocean basin during this time. We present a new magnetostratigraphic record from marine sediments that outcrop along the mid-Waipara River, South Island, New Zealand. Fully oriented samples for paleomagnetic analyses were collected along 45 m of stratigraphic section, which encompasses magnetic polarity Chrons from C23n to C21n (similar to 51.5-47 Ma). These results are integrated with foraminiferal, calcareous nannofossil, and dinoflagellate cyst (dinocyst) biostratigraphy from samples collected in three different expeditions along a total of similar to 80 m of section. Biostratigraphic data indicates relatively continuous sedimentation from the lower Waipawan to the upper Heretaungan New Zealand stages (i.e., lower Ypresian to lower Lutetian, 55.5 to 46 Ma). We provide the first magnetostratigraphically-calibrated age of 48.88 Ma for the base of the Heretaungan New Zealand stage (latest early Eocene). To improve the correlation of the climate record in this section with other Southern Ocean records, we reviewed the magnetostratigraphy of Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) Site 1172 (East Tasman Plateau) and Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) Site 131356 (Wilkes Land Margin, Antarctica). A paleomagnetic study of discrete samples could not confirm any reliable magnetic polarity reversals in the early Eocene at Site 1172. We use the robust magneto-biochronology of a succession of dinocyst bioevents that are common to mid-Waipara, Site 1172, and Site U1356 to assist correlation between the three records. A new integrated chronology offers new insights into the nature and completeness of the southern high-latitude climate histories derived from these sites. (C) 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.