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A physical interpretation of asymmetric growth and decay of the geomagnetic dipole moment

March 14, 2022

Observations of relative paleointensity reveal several forms of asymmetry in the time dependence of the virtual axial dipole moment (VADM). Slow decline of the VADM into a reversal is often followed by a more rapid rise back to a quasi-steady state. Asymmetry is also observed in trends of VADM during times of stable polarity. Trends of increasing VADM over time intervals of a few 10s of kyr are more intense and less frequent than decreasing trends. We examine the origin of this behavior using stochastic models. The usual (Langevin) model can account for asymmetries during reversals, but it cannot reproduce the observed asymmetry in trends during stable polarity. Better agreement is achieved with a different class of stochastic models in which the dipole is generated by a series of impulsive events in time. The timing of each event occurs randomly as a Poisson process and the amplitude is also randomly distributed. Predicted trends replicate the observed asymmetry when the generation events are large and the recurrence time is long (typically longer than 3 kyr). Large and infrequent generation events argue against dipole generation by small-scale turbulent flow. Instead, the observations favor a mechanism that relies on expulsion of poloidal magnetic field from the core.

Publication Year 2022
Title A physical interpretation of asymmetric growth and decay of the geomagnetic dipole moment
DOI 10.1029/2021GC010239
Authors Bruce Buffett, Margaret Susan Avery, William E. Davis
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems
Index ID 70248934
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Geology, Minerals, Energy, and Geophysics Science Center