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Is Earth's Magnetic Field Weakening? A Paleomagnetic Study Finds New Evidence

New study suggests that the life-nurturing magnetic field of the earth is weakening. (Credits: Reuters)

New study suggests that the life-nurturing magnetic field of the earth is weakening. (Credits: Reuters)

The team of scientists at the University of Liverpool found evidence of depletion by performing thermal and microwave paleomagnetic analysis of the rocks and studying the geomagnetic strength history of the earth dating back to 500 million years.

Earth’s magnetic field is an essential tool in human life’s survival kit. Not only does it protect us from the deadly blasts of cosmic radiations from outer space, but it also helps maintain liquid water, due to which plants and animals can survive on the blue planet.

A new study based on the rock samples from lava flows in the eastern region of Scotland – Strathmore, and Kinghorn – suggests that the life-nurturing magnetic field of the earth is weakening. But before you get terrified about it, let us tell you that the rate at which it is deteriorating is extremely slow – 200 million years.

The team of scientists at the University of Liverpool found evidence of depletion by performing thermal and microwave paleomagnetic analysis of the rocks and studying the geomagnetic strength history of the earth dating back to 500 million years. They noticed that a pattern denoting a 200-million cycle. The data collected over a span of 80 years displayed a dip in the magnetic field Between 416 and 332 million years ago, followed by another dip around 120 million years ago.

In the report published by the University, Dr. Louise Hawkins, the lead author of the study, said, “The findings have helped fill important time gaps such as the period leading to the ‘Kiman Superchron.’ The result from our research supports the existence of a 200-million-year long cycle as part of the deep Earth processes.”

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Earth’s magnetic field consists of molten iron and other metals situated in the outer core that facilitate electromagnetic currents, and guards the planet against solar radiations. The implications of a weak magnetic field are substantial and grave. It is believed that the mysterious extinction 359 million years ago at the Devonian-Carboniferous boundary was due to the same phenomenon that resulted in elevated UV-B levels, stated the University of Liverpool report.

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first published:August 30, 2021, 10:42 IST