New study: Our magnetic field could flip in less than a human life time – in less than 100 years

Just as I’ve been saying all along!

“Imagine the world waking up one morning to discover that all compasses pointed south instead of north,” says a new press release from the University of California – Berkeley (14 Oct 14).

“That’s It’s not as bizarre as it sounds,” the press release continues.

Less than a human lifetime

A new study by a team of scientists from Italy, France, Columbia University and the University of California, Berkeley, demonstrates that the last magnetic reversal 786,000 years ago actually happened very quickly, in less than 100 years — roughly a human lifetime.

The rapid flip, much faster than the thousands of years most geologists thought, comes as new measurements show the planet’s magnetic field is weakening 10 times faster than normal and could drop to zero in a few thousand years.

Magnetic flip
The ‘north pole’ — that is, the direction of magnetic north — was reversed a million years ago. This map shows how, starting about 789,000 years ago, the north pole wandered around Antarctica for several thousand years before flipping 786,000 years ago to the orientation we know today, with the pole somewhere in the Arctic. Credit: University of California – Berkeley

“It’s amazing how rapidly we see that reversal,” said UC Berkeley graduate student Courtney Sprain. “The paleomagnetic data are very well done. This is one of the best records we have so far of what happens during a reversal and how quickly these reversals can happen.”

Sprain and Paul Renne, director of the Berkeley Geochronology Center and a UC Berkeley professor-in- residence of earth and planetary science, are coauthors of the study, which will be published in the November issue of Geophysical Journal International and is now available online.

Earth’s magnetic field weakening 10 times faster than normal

The discovery comes as new evidence indicates that the intensity of Earth’s magnetic field is decreasing 10 times faster than normal, leading some geophysicists to predict a reversal within a few thousand years.

I previously posted about our magnetic field decreasing 10 times faster than normal here:

Just for the record, I think the reversal will come far, far sooner than “a few thousand years.”

Today, such a reversal could potentially wreak havoc with our electrical grid, generating currents that might take it down, the press release continues.

I maintain that it will also generate electrotelluric currents – electric currents coursing through the earth and the oceans.

Flip could affect electrical grid, cancer rates

And since Earth’s magnetic field protects life from energetic particles from the sun and cosmic rays, both of which can cause genetic mutations, a weakening or temporary loss of the field before a permanent reversal could increase cancer rates. The danger to life would be even greater if flips were preceded by long periods of unstable magnetic behavior.

Did you catch that? Earth’s magnetic field protects life from energetic particles from the sun and cosmic rays, both of which can cause genetic mutations.

“We should be thinking more about what the biologic effects would be,” Renne said.

Dating ash deposits from windward volcanoes

The new finding is based on measurements of the magnetic field alignment in layers of ancient lake sediments now exposed in the Sulmona basin of the Apennine Mountains east of Rome, Italy. The lake sediments are interbedded with ash layers erupted from the Roman volcanic province, a large area of volcanoes upwind of the former lake that includes periodically erupting volcanoes near Sabatini, Vesuvius and the Alban Hills.

Italian researchers led by Leonardo Sagnotti of Rome’s National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology measured the magnetic field directions frozen into the sediments as they accumulated at the bottom of the ancient lake.

Because the lake sediments were deposited at a high and steady rate over a 10,000-year period, the team was able to interpolate the date of the layer showing the magnetic reversal, called the Matuyama-Brunhes transition, at approximately 786,000 years ago. This date is far more precise than that from previous studies, which placed the reversal between 770,000 and 795,000 years ago.

“What’s incredible is that you go from reverse polarity to a field that is normal with essentially nothing in between, which means it had to have happened very quickly, probably in less than 100 years,” said Renne. “We don’t know whether the next reversal will occur as suddenly as this one did, but we also don’t know that it won’t.”

Unstable magnetic field preceded 180-degree flip

The magnetic record the Italian-led team obtained shows that the sudden 180-degree flip of the field was preceded by a period of instability that spanned more than 6,000 years. The instability included two intervals of low magnetic field strength that lasted about 2,000 years each. Rapid changes in field orientations may have occurred within the first interval of low strength. The full magnetic polarity reversal — that is, the final and very rapid flip to what the field is today — happened toward the end of the most recent interval of low field strength.

No documented catastrophes associated with past reversals?

The article insists that “there are no documented catastrophes associated with past reversals, despite much searching in the geologic and biologic record,” and it barely mentions  genetic mutations.

It also ignores magnetic excursions.

As I said in a recent post (“Earth’s Impending Magnetic Flip” – Scientific American), a magnetic excursion refers to those times in the past when the earth’s magnetic field temporarily headed south. Sometimes it began fluctuating and then settled down.  Sometimes it moved part way south and then moved back north again. Sometimes it moved all the way south and then back north.

There have been many magnetic reversals/excursions during the last 780,000 years. To name a few  are the Gothenburg, the Mono Lake, the Lake Mungo, the Laschamp, the Blake, Biwa I, Biwa II, Biwa III, Emperor, Big Lost and Delta. And many more magnetic reversals/excursions have probably occurred thee past 780,000 years that scientists have not yet identified.

No documented catastrophes?
What are they thinking?

Let’s look at the record.

The Gothenburg magnetic reversal of 11,500 years ago correlates with a huge mass extinction, when the mammoth, the mastodon, the sabre toothed cat, the short-fact bear, to name just a few unfortunate mammals, went extinct.

The Mono Lake magnetic reversal of 23,000 years ago correlates with a mass extinction.

The Lake Mungo magnetic reversal of 33,500 years ago correlates with a mass extinction. (Some studies even suggest that that is when the Neanderthal went extinct.)

Not only do magnetic reversals/excursions correlate  with extinctions, many reversals occurred in sync with catastrophic glaciation. Here’s a chart showing those correlations.

Magnetic Reversals and Glaciation

During highlighted magnetic reversals (or excursions) the climate descended from periods of warmth such as today into full-blown glaciation (I maintain) in less than 20 years. (kya = thousands of years ago)

Genetic mutations

When it comes to radiation, the records do show increased levels of carbon-14, beryllium and strontium at several magnetic reversals/excursions. I think this is what causes the evolutionary leaps that I refer to “Magnetic Reversals and Evolutionary Leaps”.

And finally, several studies have shown that volcanic activity increases during magnetic reversals.

How anyone can say that there are “no documented catastrophes” linked to magnetic reversals is beyond my comprehension.

See entire article:

Thanks to Chris Beal, John at Bayshore and David Thomas Bronzich for this link

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California – Berkeley. The original article was written by Robert Sanders.

Journal Reference:

  1. L. Sagnotti, G. Scardia, B. Giaccio, J. C. Liddicoat, S. Nomade, P. R. Renne, C. J. Sprain. Extremely rapid directional change during Matuyama-Brunhes geomagnetic polarity reversal. Geophysical Journal International, 2014; 199 (2): 1110 DOI: 10.1093/gji/ggu287


20 thoughts on “New study: Our magnetic field could flip in less than a human life time – in less than 100 years”

  1. I assume that the North pole being “north” is the norm? And that reversals are periods of great changes which can result in a complete reversal of polarity but the change is only temporary?

    The weakening fields and reversals always “right” themselves and the status quo is what we observe today – the “north” polarity is centred around the Arctic?

    Is there evidence of prolonged periods when the north polarity is located in the proximity of todays south pole for prolonged periods?

    On the chart there is considerable time between some reversals – 100 kya.

    During this time did the reversal maintain itself with the Arctic being “south” for this period until the next one shown or did the reversal happen and within a period of time it did a 90 degree flip followed by a further 90 degree flip back to the way we observe today after say some indeterminate time frame?

    I’m assuming it must have lasted long enough to lay down geologic records.

    Amazing stuff.

  2. I’m not convinced that any serious effects would be caused by a magnetic shift. Its a weak force. It doesn’t affect much. I would have to see a cause and effect link before I’m worried.

    • If the earth’s magnetic field flucuates sinusodially I would expect a 50-50 split on the poles. As to the rate change-all you have to do is look at the slope of a sinwave. Look at the slope at/near the 0,180 crossing points on a sine wave. The magnetic field shift will not be linear but follow the slope of the wave. You would expect the rate of change to increase dramtically as you approach the 0,180 crossing points.

  3. Rapid Geomagnetic Reversal Possibility: Confirmed

    Weakening Magnetosphere
    2003 BBC Magnetism Article:
    2004 NatGeo Magnetism Article:
    2006 NatGeo Magnetism Article:
    2008 NASA Magnetic Breach:
    2011 ESA Magnetism Article:…)
    Magnetic Field Animation:
    Pole Shift
    2003 NASA Pole Shift Article:
    2008 Kyoto Pole Shift Animation:
    2010 Kyoto Pole Shift Visual:
    2011 Discovery Pole Shift Article:
    Magnetic Field Links:… –… –… –… –

  4. Its odd the ‘classical’ reason for Mammoth extinction is that they couldnt cope with the ‘ice age’! What they loved the ice age!!, either it got too warm or too cold for them..whatever maybe it was all that fur..Id rather think that early humans eating very large ribs for dinner each day may have helped the decine..other load of science wiffle woffle.

  5. Wait on.. ‘last magnetic reversal 786,000 years ago’ ?? BUT what about 12000 years BP.? um something wrong here they said the LAST was 786000 ??

  6. The Berkley study is missing a crucial piece. While the magnetic field is getting weaker in the northern and southern hemispheres, it is gaining strength in the eastern hemisphere. You may refer to US National Geophysical Data Center calculator on The north magnetic pole in Antarctica measures a drop of 4% between the years 1900 and 2014 (from 69,175 nT at the magnetic pole location on 71 degree S and 148 degree E in the year 1900 to 66,749 nT at the magnetic pole location on 64 degree S and 137 degree E in the year 2014. the south magnetic pole in the Arctic has dropped by 6% (from 61,120 nT at magnetic pole location on 70 degree N 96 degree W in the year 1900 to 57,177 nT at the magnetic pole location on 85 degree N 149 degree W in the year 2014). The fact that both poles are moving eastward means that the field will have to cover a larger surface area of Earth in the west and a smaller area in the east and therefore an explanation to why the field getting weaker in western and southern hemisphere and vice versa in the eastern and northern hemisphere.

    However, the reason behind the drop of 4% and 6% when measured at pole location has another explanation that you may find it at

  7. Robert
    Could it be possible that large animal extictions happen because of telluric currents eletrocuting them.
    As retired dairy farmer I’m well aware that even an animal as large as a cow is very sensative to any ground current, a voltage difference of just a few volts between their front and back feet can be fatal,if the amperage is high enough.

    • Actually, that’s one of my proposals in “Not by Fire but by Ice.” And even more especially if they lived in the salty oceans, which would have conducted the electricity even better.

  8. Magnetic Reversals and periodical Glaciations is pure fantasies without observable facts.
    Only observable fact is that Earth’s magnetic field is weakening at some noconstant rate from the beginning of the creation of Earth.

    Only observable facts are weakening Earth’s magnetic field and trace of only one Ice Age, what was result from massive output of dust, water and heat, event better known as Noah’s Flood.

  9. Why worry about circumstances we have no control over?
    The fact that lava samples were taken from the recent Mt. Saint Helen eruption and had a rc dating test. The testing show to be millions of years older than the earlier eruption samples taken(do believe it was millions).
    That is why rc dating is not a reliable science. It basically calculates the amount of radiation
    absorption the samples have gathered from sun output.
    We have (in my opinion) been receiving more than a moderate form of over-exposure from cme and m class flares over the last 1 to 2 decades. Due to depletion of the magnetosphere.
    Has nowhere exceeded the amount of radiation say around the Galapagos island region where researchers seldomly venture. And when they do is for less than a 2 week study.
    Soooo, short,long,medium? Only time will tell. Will we end up like the creatures on Galapagos or will it be flash bang boom and it is over?
    Which is the less of two evils; extended bombardment from the sun; massive Earth upheaval of biblical proportions?
    Totally agree with Robert about volcanoes and the massive increase of quakes which awaken them. They do not take us into the ice ages but are a marking point in time of the reversals event. Reversals are the catalyst of ice ages.
    Sink holes, new islands forming, islands disappearing, entire mountain ranges roaming to and fro. You can only push the magnetic north so far from one area and closer to the other area of Earth equator till something catastrophic occurs.

    May be a weak force as you say but it does serve the purpose of holding the continents and equator in balance. If the event is prolonged(more radiation), if quickly(bar the doors Katy), we will be re-drawing maps of the world.

  10. Not gonna lose any sleep over this one.
    1) It isn’t imminent.
    2) Something may happen. Or it may not.
    3) I can’t deal with ‘science’ based on someone almost literally ‘reading the tea leaves’ in the bottom of a lake from 780,000 years ago and divining scientific facts from said reading.

  11. The question in my mind is what causes them to happen in the first place:
    Is it inner-Earth, or does things like the sun’s field have an influence?

    • Hey reezeh,

      Since a youngster have always thought how cool it would be to sit at my lab trillions of light years from this small universe and diagnose the events which bond it together through my microscope. Have always been mind set that the galaxy is bonded to the universe. Are we bonded to other universes, or when we get to the edge of ours will we fall off?

      Anyway(sorry), I believe that our galaxy is effected by the internal happenings of the universe and filters through the galaxy’s to the solar systems. A Universal event. A heartbeat of the Universe if you will. A slow pulsing heartbeat, a heartbeat cycle which takes multiple generations here on Earth to accomplish.
      The infamous wave of which Albert alluded to??

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