Research

Members of the Geomagnetism and Paleomagnetism Section study the geomagnetic field, from its core to space, to gain an understanding of Earth’s structure, dynamics, and history. Geomagnetists measure the Earth’s magnetic field at present and use measurements taken over the past few centuries to devise theoretical models to explain its origin. Paleomagnetists have an eye to history: they interpret fossil magnetization in rocks and sediments from the continents and oceans, which record the spreading of the seafloor, the wandering of the continents, and the many reversals of polarity that Earth’s magnetic field has undergone through time.

Other key aspects of GP research are the physics and chemistry of magnetic minerals, which deal with how they are formed and become magnetized and shed light on ancient climate and environment; magnetic anomalies, which offer clues about the subsurface vital for understanding the crust; and electromagnetic induction, which delineates structures deep within the planet related to variations in composition, temperature, and other properties. Keeping track of changes in the magnetic field and providing free data to researchers through a global network of permanent geomagnetic observatories are also important to the section. Exciting developments at the forefront of GP research include breakthroughs in supercomputer geodynamo simulation that are, for the first time, producing Earth-like magnetic fields and giving new insights into the dynamics of the core and aeromagnetic surveys in Antarctica that are helping to determine the geology, lithospheric structure, and tectonic evolution below the ice.