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Beyond the Holocene Geomagnetic field resolution

Project description

Secrets of our earth, within and without, are written in stone

Walking through a geological museum and admiring the beautiful crystal formations and fossil records, one typically does not think of the earth's magnetic field. However, hidden in many rocks is also a 'record' of the direction and intensity of the magnetic field at the time they were formed. Palaeomagnetism is the study of this record and it provides insight into our past as regards the earth’s core, the cosmos and our climate. We are now in the Holocene epoch, which began about 12 000 years ago. Due to a lack of available data, this period is thought to be rather uneventful from the perspective of palaeomagnetism. However, recent evidence suggests that this is hardly the case. The EU-funded GeoArchMag project is building on that data to develop a continuous time series with decade-level resolution for new insights into our world.


For decades the Holocene has been considered a flat and “boring” epoch from the standpoint of
paleomagnetism, mainly due to insufficient resolution of the available paleomagnetic data. However, recent
archaeomagnetic data have revealed that the Holocene geomagnetic field is anything but stable – presenting
puzzling intervals of extreme decadal-scale fluctuations and unexpected departures from a simple dipolar field
structure. This new information introduced an entirely new paradigm to the study of the geomagnetic field and
to a wide range of research areas relying on paleomagnetic data, such as geochronology, climate research, and
geodynamo exploration.
This proposal aims at breaking the resolution limits in paleomagnetism, and providing a continuous
time series of the geomagnetic field vector throughout the Holocene at decadal resolution and
unprecedented accuracy. To this end I will use an innovative assemblage of data sources, jointly unique to
the Levant, including rare archaeological finds, annual laminated stalagmites, varved sediments, and arid
playa deposits. Together, these sources can provide unprecedented yearly resolution, whereby the “absolute”
archaeomagnetic data can calibrate “relative” terrestrial data.
The geomagnetic data will define an innovative absolute geomagnetic chronology that will be used to
synchronize cosmogenic 10Be data and an extensive body of paleo-climatic indicators. With these in hand, I
will address four ground-breaking problems:
I) Chronology: Developing dating technique for resolving critical controversies in Levantine archaeology and
Quaternary geology.
II) Geophysics: Exploring fine-scale geodynamo features in Earth’s core from new generations of global
geomagnetic models.
III) Cosmogenics: Correlating fast geomagnetic variations with cosmogenic isotope production rate.
IV) Climate: Testing one of the most challenging controversial questions in geomagnetism: “Does the Earth's
magnetic field play a role in climate changes?”

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 1 786 381,00
91904 Jerusalem

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Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 1 786 381,00

Beneficiaries (1)