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The Otago Paleomagnetic Research Facility is a nationally available state of the art palaeomagnetic research facility which is centred around a specially constructed "magnetic field-free room" and a purpose built automated high-sensitivity, high-resolution, long-core cryogenic magnetometer designed and constructed by 2G enterprises (USA).

The motivation behind the Otago Paleomagnetic Research facility

Global earth and climate systems have recently dominated national and international forums. They are beginning to impact on the way we live, and we need to understand how they work. New Zealand's unique geological evolution offers important insight into these natural earth and climate systems, providing some of the most significant archives - both long and short-term. The challenge facing geologists is to interpret these records in a time scale that means something to us - and to work out which intervals of the archive are most relevant to the specific problems we face.

Current research

  • Investigating Antarctica's role in Cenozoic global environmental change through stratigraphic drilling for Antarctic climate, ice sheet and tectonic history (MBIE funded, ANDRILL).
  • The 'Pacific Equatorial Age Transect' Exp 320; a record the evolution of the equatorial climate system throughout the Cenozoic.

Calibration of the Cenozoic timescale

  • New Zealand's Stormy Past: resolving changes in South Island precipitation under varying influence of tropical and polar forcing over the past 17,000 years
  • Paleoclimate and geomagnetic field reconstructions from Southern Ocean sedimentary records.
  • Paleomagnetic records of climate and environmental change (FRST & GNS funded).
  • Neogene climate evolution of the Atacama Desert (FRST & NSF funded).

What is Paleomagnetism?

Paleomagnetism is a proven tool for documenting and more precisely dating indicators of climate, earth deformation and changes in the natural environment from sedimentary sequences.

The earth's magnetic field is constantly changing. Essentially, it has two stable orientations - a "normal" field where North magnetic and geographic poles coincide, and a "reversed" field where the magnetic and geographic poles are opposite. - and it oscillates between the two.

This random reversal pattern of the earth's polarity provides a unique record - one that is key to palaeomagnetism. Charting the long-term history of the earth's geomagnetic field, by recording fossil magnetism in rocks and sediments, enables us to determine when the sediment was deposited. Individual sediment layers as old as 100 million years can be dated to a precision of less than a thousand years.

Staff and students at the Paleomagnetism Research Facility

Publications from the Paleomagmetism Research Facility

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