November 20, 2012

Very fast double change in Earth's polarity 41,000 years ago

Some 41,000 years ago is not only the age of the Campanian-Ignimbrite eruption and the sudden arrival of people with Aurignacian culture (most probably Homo sapiens) to the heartland of Paleolithic Europe: the Franco-Cantabrian region, sealing the fate of our Neanderthal cousins.

Some 41,000 yeas ago is also, we are told now, the date of the latest polarity reversal of planet Earth.

Researchers from the German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ), Norbert Nowaczyk and Helge Arz, have found that around that date, any hypothetical compass would have been for some 440 years (est.) completely lost. Some of that time the compasses would have pointed South and the rest the magnetic field was so messed up that failed its normal role of protection against solar radiation, which  was then surely rather dangerous for life on Earth.

The North Pole went mad, then the Phlegrean Fields erupted


Sources and more details: GFZ, PhysOrg, Before It's News.

Reference study: Nowaczyk, N. R.; Arz, H. W.; Frank, U.; Kind, J.; Plessen, B. (2012): "Dynamics of the Laschamp geomagnetic excursion from Black Sea sediments" Earth and Planetary Science Letters (pay per view), 351-352, 54-69. doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2012.06.050

8 comments:

  1. "the magnetic field was so messed up that failed its normal role of protection against solar radiation, which was then surely rather dangerous for life on Earth".

    Possibly so. But as far as I'm aware no significant extinction events have been associated with polar reversals.

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  2. There is a certain range of energies of (mostly energetic protons) that the magnetosphere protects us from more so than the atmosphere. Luckily, the lower portion of this we also would have been shielded from by the remnant (multipole) fields. But there is no question that exposure during solar storms would have been significant; perhaps similar to that of pilots or astronauts.

    As I first joked when the news came out a while ago, perhaps the music and art of the first European modern humans was inspired by the surely almost continuous aurorae...

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  3. "perhaps the music and art of the first European modern humans was inspired by the surely almost continuous aurorae"

    Could be so!

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  4. Can you imagine the heavy burden on the shaman, who has to go out into the cold every night and try interpret what the gods are saying? Would have been convenient to have a Delphic double-speak handbook at hand.

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    Replies
    1. Haha!

      Things more practical may have become quite complicated like predicting seasons and such. Not just for people but also for the animals and plants on which people's lives depended.

      That's what I call "exiting times".

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    2. Oopsa! Should have been "exciting times"... though probably they also showed the exit door to some, so to say (Freudian lapse?)

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    3. Haha!

      I am, actually, truly and doubly appreciative of your appreciation of my sometimes so nerdy and very dry sense of humor.

      Delete
  5. "Would have been convenient to have a Delphic double-speak handbook at hand".

    Isn't that the basis of all religions? And politicians, come to think of it. It's actually my wish to see the aurora some time. It is occasionally seen in the far south of NZ, but it's a bit hit or miss. And I live in the far north.

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