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Name: Matt
Status: Student 
Grade: 9-12
Location: TX
Country: United States
Date: April 2006


Question:
Why do the magnetic poles change location from time to time and how much? Is there a certain range of their movement and how is that range measured? in degrees? Also, I assume magnetic north points towards the magnetic pole. What is geodetic north based on? Thank you for your time.



Replies:
The details of the answers to both your questions I do not believe are fully understood. It is proposed that the magnetic north pole wanders as a result of convection of molten iron in the earth's mantle, but what drives that is open to debate. The geodetic pole, the axis of rotation also follows a complex path. It is influenced by gravitational interactions of the Sun, Moon, and other planets, tidal lag, and other "minor" effects. If I remember correctly there are some 10-12 effects that cause the Earth's geodetic north to wander, one of which is the migration of the magnetic north pole! Gets to be very complicated.

Vince Calder



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