Evidence of second fast north-south pole flip found

Sep 06, 2010 by Lin Edwards report
This wide angle view of the Earth is centered on the Atlantic Ocean between South America and Africa.

(PhysOrg.com) -- The Earth's magnetic poles flip around every 200,000 years or so, with north becoming south and vice versa. Normally, the process takes 4-5,000 years and it ought to be impossible for the flip to be much faster, if models of the Earth's core are correct, but now for the second time evidence has been found of a flip that appears to have taken only a few years.

The first time evidence was discovered of a rapid geomagnetic field reversal was in 1995 when well-preserved were found at Steens Mountain in Oregon in the US. Research on the rocks by a team led by geologist Scott Bogue of the Occidental College in Los Angeles revealed the lava flow had an unusual magnetic pattern that suggested the had been shifting over 10,000 times faster than normal, at six degrees a day. The magnetic patterns are preserved within the magnetic crystals in the lava, formed as the lava flow cooled.

The first findings remained controversial and many scientists have challenged the fast flip-flop theory, but now Bogue and colleague Jonathan Glen of the US Geological Survey have found evidence in ancient lava rock in Battle Mountain, Nevada of a second fast flip, dated around 15 million years ago.

The record in one particular lava flow in Nevada suggests the magnetic field moved by 53 degrees in a single year. The lava started to cool, but was then heated again within a year as it was buried under fresh lava. The crystals in the rock were re-magnetized by the fresh lava, producing a shift of 53 degrees. This finding could mean the poles swapped over a period of only four years, but Brogue said it could also suggest there was a rapid acceleration period within the steady movement of the field.

According to some a polarity reversal is overdue, since the ’s magnetic field has been weakening for the last century, and the last stable reversal was about 780,000 years ago. Even if it was a super-fast flip-flop, however, it would not be noticeable to most people. No one is certain why such reversals take place, although many scientists believe they are connected in some way with the convective movements of the liquid iron in the Earth’s outer core.

The findings are due to appear in Geophysical Research Letters.

Explore further: Antarctic ice sheet is result of CO2 decrease, not continental breakup

More information: Bogue, S. W et al., Very rapid geomagnetic field change recorded by the partial remagnetization of a lava flow, Geophysical Research Letters, doi:10.1029/2010GL044286 , in press.

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User comments : 29

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RrMm
5 / 5 (3) Sep 06, 2010
It says most people wouldn't notice even a quick reversal. What, if any, ARE the effects of a reversal?
Nik_2213
4 / 5 (1) Sep 06, 2010
Used to be said that the familiar dipole would fragment to a quadrupole or more exotic configuration, then *slowly* settle down to either the original or flipped direction...

Has anything changed ?
Benvolio
not rated yet Sep 06, 2010
That is a good question! Why do these articles rarely include scientific speculation? It occurs to me that such a 'flip' would cause problems for militaries the world over, and air traffic etc no?
plasticpower
4.7 / 5 (7) Sep 06, 2010
Doubt it would cause any issues other than make all of the traditional compasses useless. GPS and similar navigational systems rely on atomic clocks and measure the duration of time it takes for the radio signal to travel from each GPS satellite in geostationary orbit back to a point on Earth. All satellite clocks are synched, so all one has to do (since we know the satellites location in space) is triangulate one's location based on minor differences in when the signals were received. Has nothing to do with Earth's magnetic fields. BUT, I don't know what other equipment could be affected by the shift. I suspect birds would have trouble finding their way, which could cause all kinds of terrible issues for a lot of species.
Ravenrant
2.2 / 5 (5) Sep 06, 2010
There are a LOT of things people will notice.

Compasses will still work but may need frequent compensation for the current declination.

Animals that rely on the magnetic field for navigation and migration will be in big trouble, some species may go extinct.

If the field weakens during the flip it will stop protecting us from solar particles and could knock out ALL our satellites.

There has been speculation that a pole flip could cause the Earth's crust to slip and spin around the core causing massive destruction, floods, super storms, etc. I hope that one is bogus.

It has been speculated that the pole flip might be the mechanism for the 2012 doomsday. Also bogus I hope.
antialias_physorg
4 / 5 (7) Sep 06, 2010
It says most people wouldn't notice even a quick reversal. What, if any, ARE the effects of a reversal?

Anything that relies on magnetic properties:
- Compasses wouldn't work for some time,
- bees and birds (and any other species that relies partially on a magnetic field) would be without (or at least diminished) orientation
- radiation levels would be quite a bit elevated (because the magnetic field shields us from beta and alpha particles from the sun)...this could push radiation levels for aviation into an unsafe zone.
- electronic gadgets (like everything that uses memory chips) would experience increased system failure from increased radiation events.

...
Ian_Judge_Lord
1 / 5 (3) Sep 06, 2010
Cussler, Clive & Kemprecos, Paul (2005, July 26). Polar Shift. (433p.) New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons.

McElhinny, M.W., & Merrill, R.Y. The Earth’s magnetic field (Academic, London), 183.

Roach, John. (2004, September 27). Why does Earth’s Magnetic field flip? National
Geographic News.

Tsygankov, S.S. (2006). On The Possible mechanism of geomagnetic field inversion.
Doklady Physics, 51, 7, 393-396.
Ian_Judge_Lord
1 / 5 (3) Sep 06, 2010

Cussler, Clive. (1999, December 6). Atlantis Found. (534p.) Florida: G.P. Putnam’s Sons.

Jacobs, J.A. (1995) The Earth’s Magnetic field. Contemporary Physics, 36, 4, 267-277.
Ian_Judge_Lord
1.3 / 5 (3) Sep 06, 2010
III. Figuring out what happens as the field reverses polarity is difficult because reversals are rapid events, at least on geologic time scales.
III. Magnetic North heads south, and – over about 1,000 years- the field does a complete flip-flop.
Ian_Judge_Lord
1 / 5 (3) Sep 06, 2010
III. Figuring out what happens as the field reverses polarity is difficult because reversals are rapid events, at least on geologic time scales.
III. Magnetic North heads south, and – over about 1,000 years- the field does a complete flip-flop.
Ian_Judge_Lord
3.2 / 5 (6) Sep 06, 2010
I. Scientists have long known that the magnetic pole moves.
I. The magnetic fiel waxes and wanes, poles drift and, occaisionally, flip.
I. Every so often, our planet’s magnetic poles reverse polarity.
I. Reversals happen on average only about once every 250,000 years, and they take hundreds if not thousands of years to complete.
I. Reversals take a few thousand years to complete, and during that time- contrary to popular belief- the magnetic field does not vanish.
I. Earth’s magnetic field reverses every few thousand years at low latitudes and every 10,000 years at high latitudes, a geologist funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) has concluded.
I. Each published polarity transition reported a slightly different duration, from just under 1,000 years to 28,000 years.
TabulaMentis
1 / 5 (16) Sep 06, 2010
I heard somewhere a few years ago that a magnetic field reversal could happen on December 21, 2012 when the planets realign.
frajo
4 / 5 (8) Sep 07, 2010
I heard somewhere a few years ago that a magnetic field reversal could happen on December 21, 2012 when the planets realign.
Must have been your astrology consultant.
flying_finn
2.3 / 5 (3) Sep 07, 2010
Would auroa transition be shared worldwide or localized?
ealex
4.1 / 5 (10) Sep 07, 2010
Well from what I've understood the magnetic field would shift a number of degrees each year, so I am guessing the auroras would shift accordingly?

Great to see the 2012 bullshit is still on track. Anyone actually ever read the facts on that story? The Mayan calendars do not end in 2012. They can actually go on for as long as needed, there is no limitation whatsoever.

There is NO planetary alignment in 2012. There is NO galactic plane alignment in 2012, and IF there would be, YOU would't need to care, because NOTHING would happen.

The 21 December 2012 date is nothing more than the first day in a new b'ak'tun cycle, which always consisted a reason for celebration for the Maya, and perhaps at best the celebration of the date of their current creation cycle, but there is no end of the world notion or even the notion of great transformation associated with it anywhere in Mayan writings.

Stop believing made-up crap, grow up, and start reading and educating yourselves.
Blakut
Sep 07, 2010
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
kevinrtrs
1.4 / 5 (5) Sep 07, 2010
How exactly does this reversal [over 4-5000 years] happen?
I mean, can it be measured to be reducing simultaneously at the same rate and direction all over the earth and will it be expected to reduce to zero at the time of reversal?

Why should it be reducing[to zero] in order to reverse in the first place?

If it takes so long to reverse, surely it's going to be a lonnnngg, longgggg time for it to get to zero and then get up from zero again? In other words, it'll be at zero for a considerable amount of time.

Long enough that considerable damage will occur to whatever needs protection from cosmic rays etc.

Maybe it's a good thing most of us won't be here to experience that time of reversal, then.

No one is certain why such reversals take place
I like this admission. It simply means anyone can take an educated guess as to why it happens. Sound to me like it's associated with catastrophic events like earthquakes and volcano eruptions which ARE related to earth changes.

alq131
5 / 5 (6) Sep 07, 2010
It is interesting to consider causes and effects of the field flipping. The sun's field flips every 11 years. There doesn't _appear_ to be a causation of the sun's flipping on the frequency of Earth's flips. There is a correlation to decreasing cosmic rays here when the sun is at maximum. But as for mass extinctions and birds suddenly flying the wrong way, we would expect to see that throughout the fossil record. I'm not aware of any correlation of flips with extinctions. Birds use more cues (sunlight, starlight, temp) to navigate than just the magnetic field
Travas
not rated yet Sep 11, 2010
I believe the data here are being misinterpreted. Rather than being evidence of a fast magnetic pole flip, I believe that this is likely just a localized anomaly (as tends to happen with greater frequency near the time of a magnetic pole flip).
_nigmatic10
1 / 5 (2) Sep 11, 2010
A magnetic realignment would cause some earthquakes. Especially for areas already near such an event already.
Husky
5 / 5 (2) Sep 12, 2010
even a fast flip, say a few degrees per year is just fast on geological/astronomical timescales, a yearly migrating bird won't miss it's destination continent from that, but may miss an island, i say most birds will have time enough to adjust "on the fly"
TabulaMentis
1 / 5 (2) Sep 12, 2010
A magnetic realignment would cause some earthquakes. Especially for areas already near such an event already.

Yellowstone National Park, and others like it!
KBK
1 / 5 (6) Sep 12, 2010
I heard somewhere a few years ago that a magnetic field reversal could happen on December 21, 2012 when the planets realign.
Must have been your astrology consultant.


Careful about that. Astrology is actually rather complex, it is the mother of all Sciences, Investigative methodology, Astronomy, Logic, reason, religion, mathematics, philosophy, and predictive analysis. And many other things as well.

It would take most people a good 4 years to even begin to understand what astrology is really all about. This is why the 'basics' (like an incorrectly used 2+2=4 in math) don't describe much. As for December 21, 2012, astrology does not put much into that day.

Science and engineering types are not immune to human emotion and how it is deeply part of their existence and thrust into the world. Due to their orientation, they can't take Astrology in, for it invalidates much of what they hold as truths. So it is ridiculed without proper investigation. The fault in man.
BillFox
5 / 5 (1) Sep 13, 2010
If we wanted to discuss the underlying tendancies of humanity to rely on past knowledge , this should be a philosophy forum and not a scientific discussion.
frajo
not rated yet Sep 13, 2010
If we wanted to discuss the underlying tendancies of humanity to rely on past knowledge , this should be a philosophy forum and not a scientific discussion.
Do you really suggest that the psychohistoric burden of superstition (like astrology) should be considered part of philosophy?

Science without philosophy is called engineering.
TabulaMentis
1 / 5 (3) Sep 13, 2010
Somewhere I heard, unless I made it up several years ago, when the planets align on December 21, 2012, the pull of the gravity from the alignment could possibly cause a magnetic flip-flop enough to possibly trigger a supervalcano like the one found in Yellowstone National Park.

The fact that there may also be astrology involved has no bearing on the gravity idea.
frajo
5 / 5 (2) Sep 13, 2010
Somewhere I heard, unless I made it up several years ago, when the planets align on December 21, 2012, the pull of the gravity from the alignment could possibly cause a magnetic flip-flop enough to possibly trigger a supervalcano like the one found in Yellowstone National Park.
You should check your sources. Wherever you got this from, it was not a serious source.
No, all the aligned planets together don't gravitationally influence the planet earth.
TabulaMentis
not rated yet Sep 13, 2010
Somewhere I heard, unless I made it up several years ago, when the planets align on December 21, 2012, the pull of the gravity from the alignment could possibly cause a magnetic flip-flop enough to possibly trigger a supervalcano like the one found in Yellowstone National Park.
You should check your sources. Wherever you got this from, it was not a serious source.
No, all the aligned planets together don't gravitationally influence the planet earth.

I forgot to mention that I thought it was a stupid idea.
It was the best I could come up with that could possibly relate the date 12/21/2012 with Earth's magnetic field including earthquakes.
Javinator
5 / 5 (2) Sep 13, 2010
Careful about that. Astrology is actually...the mother of ...Logic...


Suggesting such a thing is... well... illogical.

I would recommend the Penn and Teller's Bullsh!t episode on Astrology.
Greenhorn
not rated yet Sep 13, 2010
I have a few questions:
1) When the pole transits "ends" does it take a straight path north to south or does it zig-zag and wander around?
2) If the pole is passing close to a volcano like the ones mentioned above wouldn't a relatively small movement be recorded as a large shift in angle?