For Jeff King: Pole reversal.

>> Saturday, October 3, 2009

Jeff King asked: I heard a story or a theory. The magnetic polls are about to reverse and when it does the world will shift rapidly creating havoc around the world. Massive tilde waves and earth quacks around the world. Now I thought north would be south and vice versa, and that it. So instead of researching this I thought I would ask you. What will happen once our polls reverse?

Ironically, one of my undergraduate studies had to do with coming up with a way to mark the current magnetic field on stone gathered in the field to help date it since magnetic particles in molten rock will line up with the magnetic field. In history, the poles have reversed several times in the past. In between reversals, they change places and change in intensity. Right now, the "north pole", magnetically, is in Canada (and is really the "south pole"). It's currently moving toward Siberia at close to 40 km/year (2003) and accelerating.

"About to reverse" appears to be misleading. According to Wikipedia, the decrease in magnetic field that usually precedes a reversal appears to be in work (and accelerating) but the reversal is not expected for another 1000-2000 years. Still, it looks to be interesting in the mean time. Our magnetic field is credited with much of the radiation protection for the earth (a real issue whenever we venture forth onto other celestial bodies). There is speculation that, as the field deteriorates, it will allow more radiation to get through, but life as we know it has survived many other instances of pole reversal. After reversal, the field strength general recovers quickly (in geological terms). There's no reason, I think, to assume that it means our end.

As for earthquakes and tsunamis, that I haven't heard. What's the basis for that assertion?


  • Jeff King

    “As for earthquakes and tsunamis, I haven't heard. What's the basis for that assertion?”
    There probably no basis. I read in a book/paper online that when it does reverse it would affect how the earth spins. And the molten iron core that makes up the magnetic field would pulsate and affect the earth’s core. Therefore making earth quakes and the ones under the ocean would result in massive tsunamis... but like I said, I did not research it just thought it would be a good question. thx

  • Jeff King

    So the only adverse affects will be north being south and vice versa? No other problem will arise?

    Except for the radiation increasing until poles recover.

  • Stephanie B

    Jeff, we have no experience with a magnetic pole switch. We do know life forms have survived past switches, but I'm not sure we have enough insight to note if there were other effects.

    But I think any predictions (with the exception of radiation protection, which is fairly well established) are highly speculative. It's unlikely I'll be alive for it, but, if I am, I'll be sure to take notes.

  • The Mother

    This is one of the disaster theorists favorites--I hear it shows up in the upcoming movie 2012, the trailers of which are almost as hysterical as the premise.

    People just love disasters. Never understood that.

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