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No. 101: Sep-Oct 1995

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"ALMOST INCONCEIVABLE" CHANGES IN THE GEOMAGNETIC FIELD

A decade ago, a trio of geophysicists published a group of papers based on their measurements of the remnant magnetism of the 16-million-year-old layered lava flows at Steens Mountain, Oregon. (SF#45) At that time, they claimed that these finely bedded lava flows testified that, during a field reversal, the earth's field swung around at the astonishing rate of 3° per day! This rate is about one thousand times the current rate of polar drift. Mainstream geophysicists could not believe the 3°/day figure because it implied incredibly rapid changes in the flow of those molten materials within the earth that supposedly generate the geomagnetic field. The Steens Mountain data were "tabled"; that is, dismissed.

The three researchers, though, continued their labors at Steens Mountain and have now offered additional, even more impressive data. They now find that the geomagnetic field probably shifted as much as 6° in a single day. Their work has been carried forward so professionally and meticulously that other scientists are finding their conclusions harder and harder to dismiss. Instead, the search is on for explanations of the rapid field changes. Three possibilities have been advanced -- all of them unpalatable to geophysicists:

(Coe, R.S., et al; "New Evidence for Extraordinarily Rapid Change of the Geomagnetic Field during a Reversal," Nature, 374:687, 1995. Merrill, Ronald T.; "Principle of Least Astonishment," Nature, 374:674, 1995.)

Reference. More puzzles of the geomagnetic field are provided in: Inner Earth. For details, visit: here.

From Science Frontiers #101 Sep-Oct 1995. 1995-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:

Quotes

  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987