How do planets maintain magnetic fields, and how can they be used to understand planetary structure and past histories?

We use numerical simulations, experiments and direct observations (e.g. from satellites, or from historical measurements) to characterise how magnetic fields are generated in planets through "self-excited dynamo" action in conducting fluids. An important example is how the geomagnetic field arises from convection of the liquid iron outer core of the Earth. We also use magnetic fields as tools to elucidate the structure of the crust, and the electrical conductivity of the mantle.

Where does magnetism arise in natural materials, and how can we use magnetic properties to gain insights into natural systems?

We are pursuing an experimental approach to identify and characterise magnetic phases in natural materials. This information is used in mineral magnetic, environmental (e.g., soil and lacustrine), and biomagnetism (e.g., brain tissue) studies. We are also developing techniques based on rock magnetism to study deformation. Many of our experiments are carried out at the Laboratory for Natural Magnetism.


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