Collaborative Research: Geomagnetic Field as Recorded in the Mt Erebus Volcanic Province: Key to Field Structure at High Southern Latitudes
This award, provided by the Antarctic Geology and Geophysics Program of the Office of Polar Programs, supports a project to investigate Earth's magnetic field over the past 5 million years in order to test models of Earth's geomagnetic dynamo. Paleomagnetic data (directions of ancient geomagnetic fields obtained from rocks) play an important role in a variety of geophysical studies of the Earth, including plate tectonic reconstructions, magnetostratigraphy, and studies of the behavior of the ancient geomagnetic field (which is called paleo-geomagnetism). Over the past four decades the key assumption in many paleomagnetic studies has been that the average direction of the paleomagnetic field corresponds to one that would have been produced by a geocentric axial dipole (GAD) (analogous to a bar magnet at the center of the Earth), and that paleoinclinations (the dip of magnetic directions from rocks) provide data of sufficient accuracy to enable their use in plate reconstructions. A recent re-examination of the fundamental data underlying models of the time averaged field has shown that the most glaring deficiency in the existing data base is a dearth of high quality data, including paleointensity information, from high latitudes. This project will undertake a sampling and laboratory program on suitable sites from the Mt. Erebus Volcanic Province (Antarctica) that will produce the quality data from high southern latitudes that are essential to an enhanced understanding of the time averaged field and its long term variations.
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