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Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences


The global paleointensity database for 65–200 Ma was analyzed using a modified suite of paleointensity quality criteria (QPI) such that the likely reliability of measurements is assessed objectively and as consistently as possible across the diverse data set. This interval was chosen because of dramatic extremes of geomagnetic polarity reversal frequency ranging from greater than 10 reversals per million years in the Jurassic hyperactivity period (155–171 Ma) to effectively zero during the Cretaceous Normal Superchron (CNS; 84–126 Ma). Various attempts to establish a relationship between the strength of Earth's magnetic field and the reversal frequency have been made by previous studies, but no consensus has yet been reached primarily because of large uncertainties in paleointensity estimates and sensitivity of these estimates to data selection approaches. It is critical to overcome this problem because the evolution of the dipole moment is a first order constraint on the behavior of the geodynamo. Here we show that conventional statistical tests and Bayesian changepoint modeling consistently indicate the strongest median/average virtual dipole moment during the CNS. In addition, the CNS and Jurassic hyperactivity period are characterized by the highest and lowest percentage of virtual dipole moments exceeding the overall median for the 65‐ to 200‐Ma interval, respectively. These observations suggest that the superchron dynamo was able to generate stronger fields than the dynamo operating in the frequently reversing regime. While the precise mechanism remains unclear, our results are compatible with the hypothesis that field strength and reversal rate variation are controlled by changes in core‐mantle boundary thermochemical conditions.

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©2019. The Authors. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Publisher’s version of record:

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JGR Solid Earth

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


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