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Rapid Changes In Earth's Core, Magnetic Field And Gravity Seen By Satellites

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Annual to decadal changes in the earth’s magnetic field in a region that stretches from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean have a close relationship with variations of gravity in this area. From this it can be concluded that outer core processes are reflected in gravity data. This is the result presented by a German-French group of geophysicists in the latest issue of PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States).

Maps of the vertical downward component (sign-changed radial component) of the core magnetic field (A) and its secular variation (B) as estimated at the CMB from the GRIMM-3 model up to spherical harmonic degree 13.

Credit: GFZ/Credit: Mandea et al.

The main field of the Earth’s magnetic field is generated by flows of liquid iron in the outer core. The Earth’s magnetic field protects us from cosmic radiation particles. Therefore, understanding the processes in the outer core is important to understand the terrestrial shield.

Credit: GFZ/Credit: Mandea et al.

Key to this are measurements of the geomagnetic field itself. A second, independent access could be represented by the measurement of minute changes in gravity caused by the fact that the flow in the liquid Earth’s core is associated with mass displacements. The research group has now succeeded to provide the first evidence of such a connection of fluctuations in the Earth’s gravity and magnetic field.

Credit: GFZ/Credit: Mandea et al.

Evolution of the secular acceleration of the vertical downward component of the geomagnetic field computed at the Earth’s surface (as obtained from GRIMM-3 model), which evolves smoothly over the last decade. This animation shows a patch of acceleration migrating from India around 2003 to the southwest of the Indian Ocean in 2008, while a strong patch of deceleration grows in the middle Atlantic to reach a maximum in 2006 and then vanishes rapidly.

Credit: GFZ/Credit: Mandea et al.

They used magnetic field measurements of the GFZ-satellite CHAMP and extremely accurate measurements of the Earth’s gravity field derived from the GRACE mission, which is also under the auspices of the GFZ. “The main problem was the separation of the individual components of the gravity data from the total signal,” explains Vincent Lesur from the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, who is involved in the study. 


Computer simulation of the Earth‘s field in a normal period between reversals. The tubes represent magnetic field lines, blue when the field points towards the center and yellow when away. The rotation axis of the Earth is centered and vertical. The dense clusters of lines are within the Earth’s core

Credit:  Wikipedia
A satellite only measures the total gravity, which consists of the mass fractions of Earth’s body, water and ice on the ground and in the air. To determine the mass redistribution by flows in the outer core, the thus attained share of the total gravity needs to be filtered out. “Similarly, in order to capture the smaller changes in the outer core, the proportion of the magnetic crust and the proportion of the ionosphere and magnetosphere need to be filtered out from the total magnetic field signal measured by the satellite,” Vincent Lesur explains. The data records of the GFZ-satellite missions CHAMP and GRACE enabled this for the first time.
Cutaway of the Earth showing the layers to the core
Credit; Wikipedia

During the investigation, the team focused on an area between the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean, as the determined currents flows were the highest here. Extremely fast changes (so-called magnetic jerks) were observed in the year 2007 at the Earth’s surface. These are an indication for sudden changes of liquid flows in the upper outer core and are important for understanding the magneto-hydrodynamics in the Earth’s core. Using the satellite data, a clear signal of gravity data from the Earth’s core could be received for the first time.

Fig. S2. Spatial and temporal scales of the physical processes causing mass variations in the Earth system. The searched-for core signals, the magnetic jerks, are shown in yellow (adapted from ref. 15).

Credit: Mandea et al.

This results in consequences for the existing conceptual models. Until now, for example, it was assumed that the differences in the density of the molten iron in the earth’s core are not large enough to generate a measurable signal in the earth’s gravitational field. The newly determined mass flows in the upper outer core allow a new approach to Earth’s core hydrodynamics.



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Contacts and sources:

Helmholtz Centre Potsdam – GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences

“Recent changes of the Earth’s core derived from satellite observations of magnetic and gravity fields”, Mioara Mandea, Isabelle Panet, Vincent Lesur, Olivier de Viron, Michel Diament, and Jean-Louis Le Mouël, PNAS 2012; doi:10.1073/pnas.1207346109

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    Total 11 comments
    • Uncle Nobby

      “The main field of the Earth’s magnetic field is generated by flows of liquid iron in the outer core”

      Sorry, but physics 101 clearly states that molten iron has no magnetic field.
      However………plasma does have a magnetic field………….see:-

      • Anonymous

        Well let’s graduate you from 5th grade;”The magnetic behaviour of liquid gold-germanium alloys has been characterized by susceptibility measurements performed from room temperature up to a maximum temperature of 1600 K with special emphasis on the liquid state. Throughout the range of composition the diamagnetic susceptibilities were found to decrease with the temperature except for the very gold-rich side where a tendency of opposite sign was indicated. The variation of the susceptibilities with alloy composition was non-ideal with a flat minimum located at about 18 at.% Ge. The interpretation was given in terms of ‘compound formation’ around the stoichiometric compositions AuGe and Au4Ge. Alternatively, an interpretation based on a critical electron concentration was presented.” :grin:

    • Louis

      This atypically fine Alton Parrish article further elucidates that the Earth is currently undergoing significant changes, but for what purpose? Science doesn’t know, but the Bible knows, and explains in great detail that a new age of holiness, peace and bounty is about to be born, but not without a brief period of intense birth pangs known as the tribulation.

      Just like childbirth, the tribulation will be painful. But once the holy age emerges from the womb and takes its first breath, all remembrance of pain will give way to great joy all around the world.

      There is no other way to explain what all these changes on Earth, inside the Earth and in the sky mean — especially at this point in history as the current sinful age approaches its conclusion.

    • Anonymous

      If I understood this I would be worried,but I do not so I am not. nothing to do with the bible though.

    • O. Ryan Faust

      Thank you Anon for reminding us that “scientists” aren’t always. Often they’re merely theoreticians.

      Anon spouting religious theories; I got real tired of correcting decades of poor Bible scholarship so I wrote a book to straighten guys like you out. If you can get past your pride problem, read this:

      It’s not the final version that will be published, but it will straighten out your parochial eschatology issues.

      • Anonymous

        Great. Another “all knowing know it all” that presumes to have the answers to which no one else has been enlightened. The only pride for us to get over is your pride that out of all the billions of people, it appears that you have the answers that explain all.

        You’re just another turd with a computer and an ego.

      • Anonymous

        Good readin’.When I hath the time I will peruse more.I stopped at your explanation of Joe Biden and Sarah begat Isaac.In that epoch(that part is the begat part,remember Methusulah?),people lived longer,according to the scripture.I completely disagree that she was barren,and that there was intervention at all.Her grandchildren might be susceptible at 80,but not one of her bloodline.Rh positive took care of that. :neutral:

      • Louis

        How does believing in Bible prophecy impute pride? It means just the opposite — humility before the Divine wisdom contained in the Written Word.

        I don’t care for your snotty condescending attitude.

        And by the way, isn’t Faust the clown who sold his soul to the devil for the sake of gain? A rather prideful act, it would appear.

        I refuse to read your book. Don’t need to. I take my instruction from canonized theologians. They were somebodies, whereas you are nobody.

    • whitebear

      Scientific and truthful

      Nice post

    • Anotherday

      Amazing – but no one can figure out why a TickleMe Plant goes crazy when you Tickle It? :cool:
      Did everyone see the commercial?

      • Mellissa

        Lol, thanks for the giggle!

        I assume that the plant might be a relative of the bug eating plants, they move. How long does it stay closed when moved because it could be an adaptation to get nutrients not available in the land it grew.

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