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Evidence for abrupt geomagnetic field intensity changes in Europe between 200 and 1400 AD

Miriam Gomez-Paccard 1 Annick Chauvin 2 Philippe Lanos 3 
3 Archéomagnétisme
IRAMAT - Institut de Recherches sur les Archéomatériaux, GR - Géosciences Rennes
Abstract : Available archaeomagnetic data indicate that during the past 2500 yr there have been periods of rapid geomagnetic field intensity fluctuations interspersed with periods of almost constant field strength. Despite Europe being the most widely covered region in terms of archaeomagnetic data the occurrence and the behaviour of these rapid geomagnetic field intensity changes is under discussion and the challenge now is to precisely describe them. Here we present an improved description of the sharp intensity change that took place in Europe around 800 AD. For this purpose 13 precisely dated early medieval Spanish pottery fragments, four archaeological French kilns and three collections of bricks used for the construction of different French historical buildings with ages ranging between 335 and 1260 AD have been studied. Classical Thellier experiments performed on 164 specimens, and including anisotropy of thermoremanent magnetisation and cooling rate corrections, gave 119 reliable results. The 10 new high-quality mean archaeointensities obtained confirm the existence of an intensity maximum of about 85 µT (at the latitude of Paris) centred at ~800 AD and suggest that a previous abrupt intensity change occurred around 600 AD. Western European data also suggest the occurrence of abrupt geomagnetic field intensity changes during the 12th century AD and around the second half of the 13th century AD. Reliable selected eastern European data show a similar variation of geomagnetic field intensity with the occurrence of two intensity bumps (up to 75 µT at the latitude of Sofia) at ages around 650 and 950 AD and two periods of rapid intensity changes during the 12th century AD and 1300 AD. The results suggest that the described features of the geomagnetic field are observed at a continental scale and that very rapid intensity changes (of at least of 20 μT/century) took place in the recent history of the Earth's magnetic field.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, February 11, 2014 - 8:49:03 AM
Last modification on : Thursday, June 2, 2022 - 2:48:18 PM


  • HAL Id : insu-00944688, version 1


Miriam Gomez-Paccard, Annick Chauvin, Philippe Lanos. Evidence for abrupt geomagnetic field intensity changes in Europe between 200 and 1400 AD. AGU Fall Meeting 2013, Dec 2013, San Francisco, United States. pp.GP21B-04. ⟨insu-00944688⟩



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