Modeling of major martian magnetic anomalies: Further evidence for polar reorientations during the Noachian

Lon L. Hood, Corryn N. Young, Nicola C. Richmond, Keith P. Harrison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Maps of the vector components of the Mars crustal magnetic field are constructed at the mapping altitude (360 to 410 km) using a selected set of data obtained with the Mars Global Surveyor magnetometer during 2780 orbits of the planet in 1999. Forward modeling calculations are then applied to six relatively strong and isolated, dominantly dipolar, magnetic anomalies for the primary purpose of estimating bulk directions of magnetization. Assuming that the magnetizing field was a (dipolar) core dynamo field centered in the planet, paleomagnetic pole positions are calculated for the six primary source bodies together with that for a seventh anomaly analyzed earlier. In agreement with several previous studies, it is found that six of the seven pole positions are clustered in what is now the northern lowlands in a region centered northwest of Olympus Mons (mean pole position: 34° ± 10° N, 202° ± 58° E). Assuming that the dynamo dipole moment vector was approximately parallel to the rotation axis, the modeling results therefore suggest a major reorientation of Mars relative to its rotation axis after magnetization was acquired. Such a reorientation may have been stimulated by internal mass redistributions associated with the formation of the northern lowlands and Tharsis, for example. A comparison of the mean paleo (magnetic) equator to the global distribution of crustal fields shows that magnetic anomalies tend to occur at low paleolatitudes. The same appears to be true for the Noachian-aged valley networks, which exhibit a broad spatial correlation with the magnetic anomalies. A possible interpretation is that the formation of magnetic anomalies and the valley networks was favored in the tropics where melting of water ice and snow was a stronger source of both surface valley erosion and groundwater recharge during the earliest history of the planet. This would be consistent with models in which hydrothermal alteration of crustal rocks played a role in producing the unusually strong martian magnetic anomalies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)144-173
Number of pages30
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 2005


  • Mars, interior
  • Mars, magnetics fields
  • Mars, surface

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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