Burned clay Bantu huts from 1,000 years ago have revealed how southern Africa’s magnetic field has become so weak that it’s dangerous for satellites to enter it

Tuesday, March 6, 2018
By Paul Martin

Researchers are concerned about region called the South Atlantic Anomaly
This expanse of the Southern Hemisphere extends from Zimbabwe to Chile
The anomaly may be having an impact on Earth’s magnetic field as a whole
Earth’s magnetic field is in a state of weakening and the poles could reverse
In a new study the anomaly was confirmed by analysing clay records from burned Bantu huts

6 March 2018

Earth’s magnetic field is dramatically weakening, and according to new research, this disruption is part of a pattern lasting for over 1,000 years.

Experts found that a weak patch over the southern hemisphere known as the ‘South Atlantic Anomaly’, which has grown in size over the past 170 years, is not a fluke, and is likely being caused by a dense reservoir of rock deep below Africa.

This may be weakening the rest of Earth’s magnetic field, which scientists are concerned could flip the planet’s magnetic poles.

Researchers came to their conclusion by studying minerals baked into African clay huts that were ritually burned during the Iron Age.

As part of their study, they found that the Anomaly’s field strength is now so weak that it’s a hazard for satellites that orbit above the region.

This is because the magnetic field no longer protects them from radiation which interferes with satellite electronics.

The minerals have given scientists precious insight into Earth’s magnetism above Africa over the past thousand years.

According to the new research, from experts at the University of Rochester in New York, the poles have reversed frequently over the history of the planet, but the last reversal occurred some 780,000 years ago.

When flips do occur, they don’t take place immediately. Instead, they flip slowly over thousands of years.

Researchers aren’t sure whether Earth can expect another flip in the near future, due to a lack of data.

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