The Magnetic Field of the Earth's Lithosphere

Erwan Thebault, Michael Purucker, Kathryn A. Whaler, Benoit Langlais, Terence J. Sabaka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The lithospheric contribution to the Earth's magnetic field is concealed in magnetic field data that have now been measured over several decades from ground to satellite altitudes. The lithospheric field results from the superposition of induced and remanent magnetisations. It therefore brings an essential constraint on the magnetic properties of rocks of the Earth's sub-surface that would otherwise be difficult to characterize. Measuring, extracting, interpreting and even defining the magnetic field of the Earth's lithosphere is however challenging. In this paper, we review the difficulties encountered. We briefly summarize the various contributions to the Earth's magnetic field that hamper the correct identification of the lithospheric component. Such difficulties could be partially alleviated with the joint analysis of multi-level magnetic field observations, even though one cannot avoid making compromises in building models and maps of the magnetic field of the Earth's lithosphere at various altitudes. Keeping in mind these compromises is crucial when lithospheric field models are interpreted and correlated with other geophysical information. We illustrate this discussion with recent advances and results that were exploited to infer statistical properties of the Earth's lithosphere. The lessons learned in measuring and processing Earth's magnetic field data may prove fruitful in planetary exploration, where magnetism is one of the few remotely accessible internal properties.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-127
Number of pages33
JournalSpace Science Reviews
Volume155
Issue number1-4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2010

Keywords

  • Lithospheric magnetic field
  • Modelling
  • Regional modelling
  • Planetary magnetic field
  • Satellite
  • GEOMAGNETIC SECULAR VARIATION
  • CAP HARMONIC-ANALYSIS
  • ANOMALY MAP
  • SATELLITE DATA
  • REMANENT MAGNETIZATION
  • CRUSTAL MAGNETIZATION
  • REGIONAL-ANALYSIS
  • LUNAR PROSPECTOR
  • POWER SPECTRUM
  • NORTH-AMERICA

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