Geomagnetic induction in a heterogeneous sphere: fully three‐dimensional test computations and the response of a realistic distribution of oceans and continents Academic Article uri icon


  • Long-period geomagnetic data can resolve large-scale 3-D mantle electrical conductivity heterogeneities which are indicators of physiochemical variations found in the Earth's dynamic mantle. A prerequisite for mapping such heterogeneity is the ability to model accurately electromagnetic induction in a heterogeneous sphere. A previously developed finite element method solution to the geomagnetic induction problem is validated against an analytic solution for a fully 3-D geometry: an off-axis spherical inclusion embedded in a uniform sphere. Geomagnetic induction is then modelled in a uniform spherical mantle overlain by a realistic distribution of oceanic and continental conductances. Our results indicate that the contrast in electrical conductivity between oceans and continents is not primarily responsible for the observed geographic variability of long-period geomagnetic data. In the absence of persistent high-wavenumber magnetospheric disturbances, this argues strongly for the existence of large-scale, high-contrast electrical conductivity heterogeneities in the mid-mantle. Lastly, for several periods the geomagnetic anomaly associated with a mid-mantle spherical inclusion is calculated. A high-contrast inclusion can be readily detected beneath the outer shell of oceans and continents. A comparison between observed and computed c responses suggests that the mid-mantle contains more than one order of magnitude of lateral variability in electrical conductivity, while the upper mantle contains at least two orders of magnitude of lateral variability in electrical conductivity.

author list (cited authors)

  • Weiss, C. J., & Everett, M. E.

citation count

  • 24

publication date

  • November 1998