Paleointensity variations of Earth's magnetic field and their relationship with polarity reversals

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8 Scopus citations


Power-spectral analyses of the intensity of Earth's magnetic field inferred from ocean sediment cores and archeomagnetic data from time scales of 100 yr to 10 Myr have been carried out. The power spectrum is proportional to 1/f where f is the frequency. These analyses compliment previous work which has established a 1/f2 spectrum for variations at time scales less than 100 yr. We test the hypothesis that reversals are the result of variations in field intensity with a 1/f spectrum which occasionally are large enough to cross the zero intensity value. Synthetic binormal time series with a 1/f power spectrum representing variations in Earth's dipole moment are constructed. Synthetic reversals from these time series exhibit statistics in good agreement with the reversal record, suggesting that polarity reversals may be the end result of autocyclic intensity variations with a 1/f power spectrum.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)115-128
Number of pages14
JournalPhysics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 1999


  • Frequency
  • Intensity
  • Magnetic field

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Geophysics
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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