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ISSN  2096-3955

CN  10-1502/P

Citation: Xu, K. H., He, F., Wei, Y., Mitchell, R. N., Chen, S., Wang, Y. Q., and Rong, Z. J. (2022). A new inclination-based method to evaluate the global geomagnetic configuration and axial dipole moment. Earth Planet. Phys., 6(4), 359–365.

2022, 6(4): 359-365. doi: 10.26464/epp2022030

A new inclination-based method to evaluate the global geomagnetic configuration and axial dipole moment


Key Laboratory of Earth and Planetary Physics, Institute of Geology and Geophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100029, China


College of Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China


School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, UK

Corresponding author: Fei He,

Received Date: 2022-03-11
Web Publishing Date: 2022-06-28

The strength and configuration of the geomagnetic field control the average shape of the magnetosphere. The pure dipole assumption and the virtual dipole moment (VDM), determined by individual records, have been widely adopted to evaluate the strength of the geomagnetic field in geological time. However, such an assumption might not be valid during geomagnetic transitions, such as reversals and excursions. The traditional spherical harmonic modeling of the geomagnetic field could be difficult to implement because accurate global records are lacking. Here, we report that an empirical relationship exists between the ratio of the VDM to the true axial dipole moment (VDM/ADM) and the ratio of the power of the axial dipole to that of the non-axial dipole (AD/NAD) based on a new method utilizing globally distributed inclination records. The root mean square global deviation of inclination (RMSΔI) to the standard inclination distribution of the AD was fitted to the AD/NAD with a cubic polynomial by utilizing a large number of geodynamo simulations. Tests with geomagnetic field models showed that the AD/NAD derived from the RMSΔI agreed well with that calculated by using the Gauss coefficients, and the estimated ADM was consistent with the true value. Finally, the application of volcanic records during the Laschamp excursion showed the VDM might overestimate the ADM by a factor of 3. Our new method will be useful in future studies that characterize the configuration of the geomagnetic field and the strength of the axial dipole.

Key words: axial dipole, magnetic inclination, virtual dipole moment

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A new inclination-based method to evaluate the global geomagnetic configuration and axial dipole moment

KaiHua Xu, Fei He, Yong Wei, Ross N. Mitchell, Si Chen, YuQi Wang, ZhaoJin Rong