EARTH CHANGES: Magnetic Field Reversal

Possible energy ramifications of diminishing magnetic field. How long will it linger at zero before reversing?

Seeing the powerful earthquakes such as the December 26th, 2004 event that triggered the tsunami disaster, people are looking for possible causes for the apparent instability of earth's crust. "End-times" alarmists and backyard researchers believe that the predicted imminent reversal of the earth's magnetic field may be a significant clue to these eschatological-scale events.

Scientists have been observing changes in the direction of earth's magnetic field which took place recently as well as in the distant past. NASA’s website features a map showing the gradual northward migration of the north magnetic pole in the past century and a half. Since more than double the time interval has elapsed since the last reversal, compared to the time lapse between the previous two pole reversals, some believe we may be overdue for the next north-south flip. (1,2) However, though the interval between reversals of the Earth’s magnetic field can be as short as 5,000 years, it can also be as long as 50 million years. There does not seem to be any logic or rule governing the planet’s behavior.

It is not only the direction but also the strength of this magnetic field that is a concern. In the time of dinosaurs, at an estimated 2.5 gauss, it was eighty percent stronger than it is now. This may have been one of the reasons such gigantic life forms thrived. It is now accepted that a catastrophic event ended the reign of giant reptiles. However, they did not re-evolve to equivalent dimensions. And the disappearance of mammalian “mega-fauna” in more recent times is still considered to be a mystery. The mastodons and mammoths would have towered over modern elephants. Why are there so few large terrestrial animals today?

The smaller average size of modern animals may be due to the gradual decline of Earth's "steady state" (as opposed to “pulsed”) magnetism. Thousands of years ago the Chinese, with their astute discovery of bio-electrical energy flows known as “meridians”, learned that magnetism promotes vigor in biological life. They used magnetic rocks in medical treatment. In the past century there has been a further decline of earth's magnetic field by another five percent down to only 0.5 gauss. This has led Dr. Dean Bonlie to identify a "magnetic deficiency syndrome" resulting from the biological stress caused by the weakening of this "energy base" for life. (3)

The weakening of earth’s magnetism is one of the factors believed to be predictive of a pole reversal. That magnetic field reversals have occurred in the past is confirmed in the geological record. What is unclear is how precisely the transition occurs, and what happens to life forms extant at the time of this pole flip.

Does the magnetic field drop to zero gauss? Dire predictions follow upon the heels of this theory. Electronic devices would all be at risk: there may be damage to, or complete loss of, all near-earth-orbiting satellites and possibly the space station itself. Effects on life forms could range from migrating birds losing their sense of direction to immune system decline and even widespread die-off from radiation-induced cancers.

Losing its protective magnetic envelope, the atmosphere would expand and become thinner, possibly leading to altitude sickness near sea level. No longer filtered out, deadly cosmic rays would kill most if, not all, living creatures on the surface. Only those living in deep caves would be safe. This scenario has prompted some to build underground bunkers in hopes of surviving.

Countering this frightening vision, NASA predicts that, rather than declining to zero gauss, the magnetic field would become disordered. Thus we might for short time have more than one north and south pole on the planet. This official scientific stance says that the magnetosphere which shields us from cosmic radiation would not entirely disappear either. Thus, while communications would be erratic and perhaps at times completely inactivated, humans would find ways to survive. However, there are dissenters in the ranks, pointing to the vast South Atlantic magnetic anomaly and radiation damage to satellites over that region attributed to weakening of the protective magnetosphere. (4)

The disorderly-flip theory is supported by evidence from geology that in past reversals the decline was not total. Lava flows that solidified at Steen's Mountain during a lengthy reversal process show that the magnetic poles wandered across the equator three times. Though strength of the field was reduced to about 20% of maximum, there is no record that it fell to zero gauss during that transitional period. (5)

The theory that activity in the turbulent molten outer iron core of the planet generates its magnetic field currently dominates scientific thinking. Stormy activity deep in the earth's outer core, believed to be filled with roiling convection flows of molten iron, is understood to generate the planet’s magnetic field. Such violent seething could affect the mantle as well, possibly disturbing the earth's crust and causing the quakes.

However, there is an alternate theory of how the magnetic field is generated. In his article, "Origin of the Earth's Magnetic Field", Ernest McFarlane outlines gaps in the molten-iron convection theory. He proposes a system of electronic cells in a crystalline metal core with hot spots of heavy metals releasing alpha and beta particles. Due to the high heat the alpha particles are unable to combine with the free electrons. "Consequently an electron current flow is produced and conditions are set up for the generation of current loops throughout the inner and outer core. ... magnetic fields are produced as a consequence, in accordance with the right hand rule of electromagnetic theory." (5)

Which theory is right? We may find out from experience sooner than we can come to amicable agreement, given the conflicting theories and computer models. The actual dynamics may include aspects of both, or new insights not yet fully developed.

The sun reverses its magnetic field like clockwork every eleven years at the peak of the sunspot cycle. The next solar flip is due in 2012. South-pointing magnetic flux moves from sunspots, which are intense magnetic loops near the equator of the sun, along “meridional flows” to the north magnetic pole, and vice versa. As the oppositely-directed charge accumulates at the poles the field declines, until eventually the reverse charge predominates.

Scientists point out that the heliosphere does not wink out of existence during this reversal. The sunspots are intense magnetic knots, much stronger than the star’s main field, which continue to spiral outward even when the main dipole field vanishes briefly. Though the solar magnetic reversal is not completely understood, the Ulysses space probe has sent back detailed data which has supplied answers to many questions. (6)

The mechanism that controls earth's field reversals may not be based on similar principles. For one thing, a planet does not seem to have any equivalent to the powerful sunspots. McFarlane refers to there being more than one north-south pole system and about 10% of the total field being involved in smaller extra fields. If these subordinate minor magnetic fields take up more of the magnetic activity during the main field’s decline, they might become active enough to sustain a minimal protective layer shielding the biosphere, even if the main dipole field declines to zero gauss. This could be important for our survival, as the Steen’s mountain lava flows indicate that the reversal took 4,500 years to be completed! (5)


Whether the magnetic field is primarily molten-metal flow dynamics or electron current loops, or a combination of those and other factors, a magnetic pole reversal may be of significance to the search for clean energy generation and transportation. If earth magnetic anomalies become more frequent or are concentrated in certain areas, we could see disruption of existing electrical grids, even without the dramatic atmosphere expansion and radiation damaging to life and computers.

PES Network Inc. wants to encourage people in all geographical regions to participate in magnetic-pole data collection and reporting. A community-editable directory page at has been created for this purpose. It is recommended that you first establish a “base line” by determining the accurate magnetic north reading for your location, and report the number of degrees and direction of any deviation from this norm. If you are able to access equipment to determine field strength as well, this additional data would be of interest too.

This data may be useful in helping inventors and researchers test the tolerance of Zero-point technologies, magnetic motors and other new generation systems in adverse situations. As we may have to live through ongoing magnetic disturbance for a long time, we will need to know whether the new systems will be robust under conditions of planetary pole reversal.

Ordinary citizens do not usually have access to instrumentation that would allow them to examine the deeper layers of the planet, nor the high atmosphere, nor the magnetospheres in space. However, if many people collect observations on magnetic field direction from different locations across the continent of North America, and indeed around the world, this data may become relevant in more ways than feeding "end-time" theorizing.

The subject is complex, and whichever scenario may be about to occur, some individuals have been taking note of unusually large fluctuations in the apparent position of the magnetic north pole. Using a large, stationary, home-built compass, one individual in western Canada noticed a ten-degree variation within a few days. This was so unusual that, concerned about a sudden pole shift, he described and published his observations, and asked for input.

No one else was seeing this rapid "pole shift".

On borrowing a very sensitive water-filled portable compass and quartering the area, he discovered that this was indeed a highly localized anomaly in which his domicile happened to be situated dead center. See his recorded readings at the link below. (8) He is now theorizing that the phenomenon may be a vortex related to the nearby extinct volcano Mount Ida. (9) Vortices have been known to occur in volcanic mountain areas, and in the past some have become tourist attractions.

Individual observations are of value, but need to be balanced by additional data from a much wider geographical area. Thus alarms about sudden general "pole shift" may be put to rest, and anomalies studied for what they are.

Ted Twietmeyer is one of those calling for volunteers to join in a non-profit effort (10) to track the magnetic pole shift -- or apparent pole shift. Summaries and links to this data would be appropriate for the above-mentioned PESWiki directory.









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