A new analysis of geological data from the Marche region suggests that 84 million years ago the Earth’s axis tilted to one side, and then back.
The Earth spin axis slowly shifts over time, taking tens of million years for just one degree of variation. In the process, the geographical location of the North and South magnetic poles changes accordingly. But geophysicists suspect that faster and more traumatic oscillations have occurred during the planet’s history, in particular at the end of the Cretaceous period.
To test the idea, an international team of scientists has spent seven years recording and analysing data from rock samples found in central Italy. “Stratigraphic sections from Furlo and Apiro in the Marche region are largely composed of ‘scaglia rossa’, a sedimentary rock full of microfossils that simplifies the dating process” Coccioni explains.
Hematite and lodestone in those rocks have microscopic natural magnets embedded within, that retain signs of the position of magnetic poles in the past, even after millions of years.
The scientists collected data from two parallel stratigraphic samples dating to the same era, collected from the same site and analysed with the same methods, to ensure that the corresponding results were no accident.
Signs of ancient pole shift
The new data show that in the Late Cretaceous period, about 84 million years ago, the Earth’s spin axis started to change, and Italy moved to lower latitudes.
The scientists estimate that the variation reached about 12 degrees. Then the process reversed, and 78 million years ago the axis returned to its original position. “The axis probably took a round trip,” says Coccioni. “Our data fit with what we call a true polar wander, consisting in this notable shift in spin axis.”
The hypothesis had already been suggested in the past, but an older analysis on similar rocks from a site in Umbria in the 1970s seemed to disprove it. Now, Coccioni and his colleagues have analysed the rocks with more precise techniques that did not exist at the time, such as thermal demagnetization, that removes the disturbances caused by the current magnetic field, and superconducting magnetometers.
As for the causes, scientists suspect that tectonic plates drifted, and that an unbalanced weight distribution on the Earth surface forced the planet to tilt. “But more data from other parts of the world are needed to confirm that a true polar wander occurred,” says Coccioni.
Current pole shift
The magnetic North is currently at 36.87°degree. It moved 4.99 miles in May and 5.47 miles in June.
We are now heading towards 40°. As we approach this mark, we will experience more severe thunderstorms, plasma lightning, extreme flooding, hailstorms, strong winds, powerful tornadoes, ground cracking, massive sinkholes, extreme heat and cold temperature like what we are seeing now.
At 37°, Earth will experience enhanced earthquake activity (daily M6-7 earthquake), and more extreme weather than what we have right now!
The global seismic unrest is very quiet right now.
Just keep in mind, 40° does not mean we will experience a pole shift. But it tells us our magnetic field is at its weakest, meaning it may flip anytime soon…
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