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Eddies in the deep Earth

Blips in the Earth's magnetic field are windows to the planet's interior

The flow of molten material in our planet’s outer core is the prime source of Earth’s magnetic field. That flow can fluctuate rapidly over large areas, recent data suggest, so geophysical models that estimate how the magnetic field evolves over time should account for such variations.

Earth’s outer core, a molten mix of iron and other metals that is no more viscous than water, flows at an average speed of about 20 kilometers per year. Because that material contains charged particles, its flow produces the planet’s magnetic field, says Nils Olsen, a geophysicist at the DanishNationalSpaceCenter in Copenhagen.

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