Pacific Geomagnetic Secular Variation

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  22 Jan 1971:
Vol. 171, Issue 3968, pp. 248-254
DOI: 10.1126/science.171.3968.248


We have considered several different types of records of long-period geomagnetic secular variation: direct measurements made in geomagnetic observatories; paleomagnetic measurements on Hawaiian lava flows with accurately known ages in the interval 0 to 200 years; paleomagentic measurements on Hawaiian lava flows with loosely determined ages within the interval 200 to 10,000 years ago; and worldwide paleomagnetic measurements of the average geomagnetic angular dispersion recorded in lava flows that formed during the past 0.7 million years. All these magnetic records indicate that, during this time, the nondipole component of the earth's field was lower in the central Pacific than elsewhere, as it is today. This, in turn, indicates that there is some type of inhomogeneity in the lower mantle which is coupled to the earth's core in such a way as to suppress the generation of the nondipole field beneath the central Pacific. With the present incomplete state of knowledge about the processes that give rise to the earth's field, it is uncertain whether undulations in the core-mantle interface or lateral variations in the composition and physical state of the lower mantle are ultimately responsible for the pattern of secular variation seen at the earth's surface.