Where Oh Where are the Poles Now!

© 2018 B. L. Freeborn

Observed pole positions taken from Newitt et al., “Location of the North Magnetic Pole in April 2007”, Earth Planets Space, 61, 703–710, 2009 Modeled pole positions taken from the National Geophysical Data Center, “Wandering of the Geomagnetic Poles” Map created with GMT. CC BY 4.0 Cavit

Earth’s magnetic poles shift over time whereas the true poles are fixed geographic locations. The magnetic pole is the place where the lines of force are oriented vertically into/out of the planet. Mapping of the Magnetic North Pole shows it was north of Victoria Island, Canada in the 1600’s and south of the island in the 1800’s. Since then it has moved in virtually a straight line towards the Arctic Circle to approximately 160̊ W off the coast of Russia. As indicated in the image, the predicted movement of the north pole is in a clockwise rotation around the true pole.

NOAA National Geophysical Data Center – Locations of Magnetic South Pole, or dip pole, over time. Comparison of direct observations with model predictions. http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/geomag/image/south_dip_poles.png

Similarly, the South Pole was at the Ross Ice Shelf in the 1600’s, then it moved in a northwest direction and now lies off the coast at 64.28°S, 136.59° E (2015). It has shifted from 160̊ E to 137̊ E since the 1600’s and travels six to nine miles a year. It is predicted here that the south pole should behave in the same manner as the north and take up a clockwise rotation (when seen from the south pole) around the true pole. However, it may be sometime before the process completes in the south since it is still 1,780 miles from the true pole. The magnetic pole is not a true dipole at this time since they are some 20̊ apart in latitude.

In accordance with the theory presented in this paper, the rapid shifting of the poles in the north in the last few decades is indicative of the final stages of reprogramming of the mantle by the inner core. The speed with which this process occurs can be easily observed in small magnets as magnetic fields are induced or flipped with more powerful magnets.

Throughout these many pages and articles magnetic north has been quoted as lying in Hudson Bay at 56.5̊ N 79.2̊ W. Charles Hapgood’s best guess through his research was a location of 60̊N 83̊W. These two points are about 280 miles apart. Previous pole locations were the Greenland Sea Pole 72̊N 10̊W about 75,000 years ago and the Yukon Pole 63̊N 135̊W  about 120000 years ago. These locations were determined by examining magnetic patterns left in the sedimentary layers and other evidence. (Hapgood, Charles, “Path of the Pole,” Adventures Unlimited Press, Kempton, Illinois, 1999.)

Before leaving this topic it is worthwhile to note that when the North Pole was located more inland the winters were more frigid and ice stayed longer in the Arctic. The south pole has moved just off the Antarctic coast and despite the breaking away of large parts of the ice shelves the sum total of ice on the continent is growing. Remember each snowflake forms around a dust particle and those particles respond to the magnetic pull at each pole. Because the magnetic pull is directed vertically downwards in these regions the tendency should be for the snow to build up there.

When the pole is located in the ocean the ice builds up and its buoyancy pushes it to the ocean surface. This allows more to build up on the upper surface but ocean currents work to pull it away underneath which weakens it as it attempts to build. There is no undercurrent to reduce the ice and particle build up when the pole is on land. This leads one to speculate that the ice should build up and its accompanying cold should be more severe when the poles are on land. So perhaps the location of the poles is another large contributor to global warming. The possibility also exists that the accumulation of particles over long spans of time at the magnetic poles may have contributed to the formation of the continents.

Experts tell us the earth is losing its magnetism. Maybe. Maybe not. So there it still more to come…. in the next section.

Back to previous section. Back to beginning.

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The Mid-Atlantic Ridge and Flip-Flopping Magnetism

Image of bands on ocean floor at mid-Atlantic Ridge.

© 2018 B. L. Freeborn

As stated in the first post: “The intensity of the Earth’s magnetic field over the Atlantic Ocean has been measured on a number of flights organized by the Department of Mines and Technical Surveys of Canada and also under Project Magnet (U.S. Hydrographic Office). Some of these flights passed over the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and the magnetic observations show that there are large anomalies associated with the crest of the Ridge in some crossings, but not in all.” – Magnetic Anomalies over the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, M. J. Keen, Nature.com

Measurements of intensity and direction of magnetism taken in the above mentioned studies and others have been used as evidence that the Earth’s magnetic poles flip. The cooling lava exuded along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge records the direction of the Earth’s existing magnetic field at the time. Because it is striated in opposing N-S, S-N bands the assumption that it flips has been made.

It is true and proven that the lava acts as a recording medium. The argument here lies with assuming it is found in striated bands solely because the poles flip. These long striated cooled lava flows are ‘weak’ magnets under enormous ocean pressures which suffer breakage from earthquakes and other shifting.


Left image is unbroken magnet seen through viewing film. In center is broken magnet seen on right. Broken magnet does not re-unite properly. Upper half is flipped. (Photo: Ken Wheeler)

This leads one directly to the key question: what happens to a magnet when it breaks? In Image A (below) at the end of the chain is a broken magnet and it behaves the way one expects. A new north and south pole has formed and it obediently lines up. But this is not always the case. Magnets of different shapes will sometimes reverse their physical position entirely to regain an opposite pole attraction as shown in the image of the circular magnet.

Image A is a photo of 4″ long stainless steel magnets of a ‘medium’ strength. The north pole is marked with red tape on each magnet. They ideally line up in a N-S, N-S chain as one expects and so can model these long lava striations well. Over time earthquakes and other local disturbances fracture the hardened lava flows. The well known ‘opposite poles attract model’ (N-S -N-S) is obeyed. However, it would be an oversimplification to assume the solidified lava does not also fracture in long sections paralleling the rifts. What then happens to these weak fields?

Observe the layout in Image B as rows of the long magnets are set beside each other. They form separate magnet chains with parallel N-S poles in line. They suddenly no longer want to pull together but push away in long lines. There is no way to bring them together except by constant and continuous force which presumably the ocean floor can provide in many locations. In other locations, the striated lines would push away from each other in the same manner as the steel magnets. However, if one jiggles the magnets they will line up at the midpoint of the opposite magnet (Image C) but that requires a shift of the entire long chain or shifting after fracturing in smaller sections.

If the chains fail to come back together they will still attract sediments to fill in ‘magnetically’ where the charged lava ‘most desires’ it. Then we may speculate that separated N-S, N-S chains will create either the pattern seen in Image C or a N-S, S-N pattern as we see in Image D.

But what about a weak magnet that fractures in parallel and the strips are forced together?

It is an easy matter to stroke a needle over a magnet and induce magnetism in the needle. It is also an easy matter to create two or three of such magnets in the same needle. One can even create a needle with identical poles at opposite ends and the opposing poles in the middle with a space between them. Inducing magnetism in metals is an easy process so it is not far fetched to suppose that a multi-fractured layer can exhibit flipping (de-magnetization followed by re-magnetization) in parallel strips in the direction of charge. Indeed, fracturing is probably not even necessary if the material itself varies enough in nature to allow bands of magnetized metals to alternate with non-magnetic materials.

And then one also has to consider the possibility that the new lava being exuded has a pole orientation at an angle to that which has cooled. What then happens? In Image E the magnets are set at 90 degrees to the chains. In setting the perpendicular magnets they automatically are drawn to the opposing poles as seen. Jiggle them slightly and they will shift as seen in Image C or D.

Therefore, the conclusion that the poles flip because the lava flows are striated N-S, S-N cannot be made. The exercise does suggests that lava flows will lay down in an orderly fashion. It will either develop into bands that are all N-S or in bands that alternate N-S then S-N. The direction of the magnetism in the exuding fluid lava can be under the influence of the Earth’s poles or under local influence. Regardless, it will prefer to form over time one of the two patterns seen above in Image C or D.

Yet we know the magnetic north pole has traveled recently from south of Victoria Island towards true north, that the south pole has also traveled, that magnetic field strengths are varying and that magnetic fields recorded in sedimentary rock appear to record shifting poles. So, there is certainly much more to discuss and learn.

More to come…. in the next section. Back to previous section. Back to beginning.

Thinking about Flipping Earth’s Magnetism

© 2018 B. L. Freeborn

In the previous posts the magnetic strength of each major layer of Earth was discussed. The next step is to look into the idea that the poles of the earth just flip. This is an idea that has become very popular but is it valid?

The video depicts the reprogramming of magnetic orientation (if it occurs slowly) or the flipping of poles (if instant).

The best way to approach the idea that Earth’s poles can flip is to think about it extensively first. Here are three thought exercises:

  1. Hold a magnet in your hand firmly. Allow this to be the exterior mass of Earth. Now without moving your hand get the poles to flip. How can it be done?
  2. Hold a magnet in your hand firmly. Allow this to be the interior solid core of Earth. Now without moving your hand get the poles to flip. How can it be done?
  3. Hold a magnet in your hand firmly. Allow the magnet to represent a single layer of sedimentary rock that has recorded the current magnetic field. (In reality they are stacked one on the other in different directions recording its movement.) If the outer shell of Earth is rigid and does not move, how can you shift the magnet’s field by 25 degrees in either direction without moving your hand to simulate the direction of the next sedimentary layer? Remember plate tectonics is gradual so that is not an option.

Proposed answers:

  1. There are only two ways to get the poles to flip without moving your hand:
    -Hold onto the magnet until it loses its magnetism (a very long time) and then expose it to a magnet or electric field with an opposing charge. It will reorient itself accordingly. But that can hardly be called flipping. That is reprogramming it.
    -Hold onto the magnet and expose it to a much much larger and stronger magnetic field. It will flip instantly. What could in reality supply such a field to the Earth? A near miss by a larger planetary type body with a greater magnetic field would do it but it is not likely to happen since large free moving bodies are more rare than comets.
    -There are variations on this but it still requires bringing other very strong magnetic fields into close proximity. So…. essentially it just does not happen.
  2. The poles of the inner core cannot be flipped except as noted in 1. Flipping the interior solid core as a whole is perhaps easier but this is not a flipping of the poles. The solid round core will just rotate within the liquid core. In order to do this, the inner core must be in a magnetically locked position with the outer crust. When the outer crust rotates so does it. Then to flip the pole spinning the planet completely over is required.
    -But we might assume it is always magnetically locked to the outer crust. If it were to break the lock, it would be free to rotate. Although it is a large mass that is hurtling through space around the Sun its momentum would not prevent its rotation since it should be free to rotate around its own center of gravity. This case shall be considered in the future and it will be discussed just how far it can rotate until it locks up again. So ….essentially it can happen but probably less often then a partial rotation.
  3. How does one lay down the next magnetic layer in the sedimentary layers without moving the old sedimentary layers? If the crust cannot and does not move then the field must, and this is what fuels experiments today and defines the current understanding of Earth’s magnetism.

There is an underlying unspoken consensus in the scientific community that the crust/mantle system of the Earth always has been in the position it is today with North America and Russia nicely dominating the northern hemisphere. Period. Except during the time of the single Pangaea which is too long ago to explain modern phenomena and then artists still show only the southern continents moving away.

There are only three options then: have a perpetually shifting field, overwhelming influence the field externally or move the magnet itself. Modern models are firmly based in the first. The second cannot happen as often as the rock record suggests which leaves the last. It is anathema to the modern scientist to consider that the planet is a layered structure which responds accordingly. It is also forbidden to suggest that the planet is subject from time to time to extreme impacts which can shift the bulky outer 1800 mile layer in relation to the inner core and the ecliptic plane.

This is not as proposed by Charles Hapgood’s popular theory who only envisioned the outer 60 miles, lithosphere, moving on the 460 mile thick semi-lava layer, the asthenosphere. The difference is like trying to slide a rubber tire directly on the rim vs. moving the tire and rim around on a free axle. Since the viscosity of the outer liquid core is said to be less than that of water, it is essentially a free axle.

So …. in the next post let us look at the rock record that indicates the core flips.

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