A Statistical Model of the Fluctuations in the Geomagnetic Field from Paleosecular Variation to Reversal

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Science  09 Aug 1996:
Vol. 273, Issue 5276, pp. 776-779
DOI: 10.1126/science.273.5276.776


The statistical characteristics of the local magnetic field of Earth during paleosecular variation, excursions, and reversals are described on the basis of a database that gathers the cleaned mean direction and average remanent intensity of 2741 lava flows that have erupted over the last 20 million years. A model consisting of a normally distributed axial dipole component plus an independent isotropic set of vectors with a Maxwellian distribution that simulates secular variation fits the range of geomagnetic fluctuations, in terms of both direction and intensity. This result suggests that the magnitude of secular variation vectors is independent of the magnitude of Earth's axial dipole moment and that the amplitude of secular variation is unchanged during reversals.