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The signature of inner-core nucleation on the geodynamo

Abstract : Energy considerations indicate that the power delivered to the present-day geodynamo comes mainly from the growth of the solid inner core, through light element and latent heat releases. The nucleation of the inner core was, therefore, a major transition for the geodynamo. Here, we use numerical dynamo simulations linked by thermochemical evolution of the core to investigate the effects of inner-core nucleation (ICN) on the geodynamo, and identify possible ICN footprints in the palaeomagnetic field. Our results suggest that a strong-field dipole-dominated dynamo prior and after ICN (the uniformitarian scenario) is most likely. We predict little footprint of ICN on the surface field intensity, consistent with the observed lack of a long-term trend in paleointensity data. Instead, we find that the best proxy for inner-core growth is an increase in axial octupole strength with age, from present-day to ICN, which might be resolvable in the palaeomagnetic record. We confirm the existence of weak-field, multipolar dynamos prior to ICN, suggesting the dynamo might have transiently reached a weak-field state (the catastrophic scenario). The narrow stability domain of these weak-field dynamos implies that the catastrophic scenario is less probable than the uniformitarian scenario.
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Maylis Landeau, Julien Aubert, Peter Olson. The signature of inner-core nucleation on the geodynamo. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Elsevier, 2017, 465, pp.193-204. ⟨10.1016/j.epsl.2017.02.004⟩. ⟨insu-02918346⟩

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