Magnetic reversal frequency scaling in dynamos with thermochemical convection

Research areas:
Year:
2014
Authors:
Journal:
PHYSICS OF THE EARTH AND PLANETARY INTERIORS
Volume:
229
Pages:
122-133
Month:
April
ISSN:
0031-9201
BibTex:
Abstract:
Scaling relationships are derived for the frequency of magnetic polarity reversals in numerical dynamos powered by thermochemical convection. We show that the average number of reversals per unit of time scales with the local Rossby number Ro(l) of the convection. With uniform core-mantle boundary (CMB) heat flux, polarity reversals are absent below a critical value Ro(lcrit) similar or equal to 0.05, beyond which reversal frequency increases approximately linearly with Rot. The relative standard deviation of the dipole intensity fluctuations increases with reversal frequency and Roe. With heterogeneous CMB heat flux that models the large-scale seismic heterogeneity in Earth's lower mantle, reversal frequency also exhibits linear dependence on Rot, and increases approximately as the square root of the amplitude of the CMB heterogeneity. Applied to the history of the geodynamo, these results imply lower CMB heat flux with Ro(l) Ro(lcrit) when geomagnetic reversals were frequent. They also suggest that polarity reversals may have been commonplace in the early history of other terrestrial planets. We find that zonal heterogeneity in CMB heat flux produces special effects. Close to Ro(lcrit) enhanced equatorial cooling at the CMB increases reversal frequency by concentrating magnetic flux at low latitudes, whereas far beyond Ro(lcrit) enhanced polar cooling at the CMB increases reversal frequency by amplifying outer core convection. (C) 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.