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SWLGS Luncheon Topics

Updated Feb. 7, 2008

Feb. 2008

Chasing the Earth's Magnetic Field - With A Drillship


Carl Richter, University of Louisiana - Lafayette,  Department of Geology


Abstract Summary


Earth is exceptional among the terrestrial planets because it exhibits a strong magnetic field that has existed for several billion years. Much of our understanding of the behavior and history of this field is derived from paleomagnetic measurements of sedimentary sequences, which permit precise dating and the development of good records of both paleomagnetic directional and intensity variability. As the World’s largest Earth Science operation, the Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) has conducted 110 expeditions comprised of 653 individual coring sites over the last twenty years. Many of those sites from all over the World have been drilled into deep-sea sediments with at least moderate (>10 cm/kyr) resolution records of paleomagnetic field variability and several sites recovered high- and super-high resolution records with sedimentation rates reaching 400 cm/kyr. ODP has routinely recovered pristine sequences of deep-sea sediments hundreds of meters in length from each site using the Advanced Piston Corer (APC). The geomagnetic field behavior determined from paleomagnetic studies of these sites has significantly improved our understanding of the history of the Earth’s magnetic field and its relationship to paleointensity, excursions, and polarity reversals.


Dr. Richter participated in eight two-months long ODP drilling expeditions to the Mediterranean Sea and the Pacific, Atlantic, and Southern Ocean during which he coordinated and participated in the recovery and scientific analysis of over 30 km of sediment core. Dr. Richter will present highlights and pictures from several ODP expeditions and illustrate how magnetic data are beginning to answer basic questions about the geomagnetic field behavior.


Biographical Sketch

Carl Richter received his M.S. (1987) and his Ph.D. (1990) from the University of Tuebingen (Germany). He spent the following three years as a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Michigan and joined the Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) at Texas A&M University in 1993. At ODP he was involved in a wide variety of oceanographic drilling expeditions into the world’s oceans as staff scientist and project manager. His main expertise is in geomagnetic methods, such as magnetostratigraphy and relative paleointensity and their application to geology. In 2002 Carl accepted a position at the University of Louisiana where he became Kevin C. and Veronica Charles McNamara Endowed Professor of Geology and Head of the Department. Carl has published more than 100 articles, books, reports, and meeting abstracts. He has been a long-time member of the American Geophysical Union and the Geological Society of America and serves currently as the secretary of the Lafayette Geological Society.