Earth’s Magnetic Field is 4 billion Years Old

Earth’s Magnetic Field: The Guessing Game

The dynamo theory explains the mechanism by which a celestial body generates a magnetic field. For a long time, it has been suggested that Earth’s magnetic field would eventually weaken. The field can change over time and may even occasionally flip, causing the north to become the south and vice versa. Now, new research, published on July 28th in Nature, states that Earth’s weakening magnetic field is actually a sign that another flip is to be anticipated.

It is important to understand Earth’s magnetic field

We owe our livelihood to the magnetic field surrounding our planet, as it protects us from the sun, keeping life as we know it from dying off. Without it, Earth would probably look very much like a barren wasteland.

So what do we know about Earth’s magnetic field? Based on scientific evidence, it is at least 3.2 billion years old. As such, examining untouched rocks from that era may help scientists more accurately approximate how old the magnetic field is. This is exactly what John A.Tarduno sought out to do by dating rocks of zircon crystals. The researcher recently released his findings in the journal, Science.

His results revealed that the rocks dated back to 3.3 to 4.2 billion years old, during a period of time when the field was much stronger. Upon further reflection, it was determined that Earth’s magnetic field is actually closer to 4.4 billion years old.

Stepping into the unknown

There is still a lot we don’t know about this process. Tarduno also states that if the data from the zircon had been altered in any way, so to speak, then all the information yielded from the crystals would be the same.

Other celestial bodies, such as Mars and the moon, also hold evidence of remnant magnetizations of similar ages. But since that time, their global magnetic fields have been lost. As a result of this, solar winds could have stripped Mars’ atmosphere, causing a change in its chemical makeup. This could ultimately have brought an end to the “warm, wet period” that may or may not have supported primitive forms of life.

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