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The eastern Australian magnetic inclination record: dating the recent past and re-assessing the historical geomagnetic archive

Gale, Stephen and Cook, D.E. and Dorrington, N.J. (2013) The eastern Australian magnetic inclination record: dating the recent past and re-assessing the historical geomagnetic archive. The Holocene, 23 (2). pp. 1-18. ISSN 0959-6836

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A new compilation of historical observations and archaeomagnetic measurements of magnetic inclination for the last 1000 years from eastern Australia (the eastern Australian Inclination Record [eAIR2012]) has revealed the existence of a well-defined inclination anomaly in the region. Evidence of this magnetic feature has been preserved in sedimentary records from across eastern Australia, though this has not previously been recognised. Analyses of additional sedimentary sequences have confirmed the incidence and timing of this feature, revealing its presence between the 13th and 18th centuries AD. The inclination of the field during this episode appears to have been steeper than at any time since the start of the Holocene. Lake sediment evidence suggests that the anomaly is a composite feature, displaying a distinct peak at cal AD 1270–1386 (±2 s uncertainty), reappearing after cal AD 1431–1651 (±2 s uncertainty) and disappearing before AD 1822±46 (±2 s uncertainty). The disappearance of the anomaly is tightly bracketed in the historical record between AD 1770 and 1777. The rapid shift in inclination during the 18th century AD offers considerable potential as a means of dating a critical period of Australian environmental history, an episode that currently lies beyond the reach of established dating methods. This information also provides a valuable constraint on models of regional geomagnetic field change over centennial and millennial timescales. Our examination of the historical record has revealed that the inclination measurements made by the 18th century French explorer La Pérouse are consistently erroneous. Since La Pérouse’s data make up 13% of the total body of pre-19th century inclination records, the inclusion of these measurements in global compendia of magnetic observations may seriously skew attempts to model the geomagnetic field. We advocate that La Pérouse’s inclination measurements should therefore be employed only with considerable caution.

Item Type: Journal Article
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GB Physical geography
Divisions: Faculty of Science, Technology and Environment (FSTE) > School of Geography, Earth Science and Environment
Depositing User: Ms Shalni Sanjana
Date Deposited: 12 Feb 2013 03:59
Last Modified: 16 Jun 2016 22:05

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