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Open Access

Geomagnetic jerks from the Earth’s surface to the top of the core

  • Aude Chambodut15, 25, 45,
  • Céline Eymin35 and
  • Mioara Mandea25
Earth, Planets and Space200759:BF03352730

Received: 6 October 2006

Accepted: 6 June 2007

Published: 20 July 2007


Rapid changes in the magnetic field characterised by an abrupt change in the secular variation have been named “secular variation impulses” or “geomagnetic jerks”. Three of these events, around 1968, 1978 and 1990, occurred during the time-span covered by the comprehensive model CM4 (Sabaka et al., 2002, 2004). This model, providing the best temporal resolution between 1960 and 2002 as well as a fine separation of the different magnetic sources, can be used to study rapid phenomena of internal origin. In order to analyse these events all over the globe, synthetic time series were obtained from the CM4 model between 1960–2002. Geomagnetic jerks are detected here as a rapid movement of the zero isoline of the second field derivative. Analysis of the area swept out by this isoline as a function of time allows us to map the spatial extent of jerks though time, and to identify an event around 1985 that is localized in the Pacific area. At the core surface, we compute the fluid flows under the frozen-flux and tangentially geostrophic assumptions. The flows do not exhibit any special pattern at jerk times, but instead show a smooth temporal evolution over the whole time period. However, the mean amplitude of the dynamical pressure associated with these flows present maxima at each jerk occurrence and helps to confirm the identification of a jerk in 1985.

Key words

Geomagnetic jerksmagnetic modelscore surface flowscore dynamics