The program therefore travels with the geologist from Utrecht to Mount Etna in Sicily. There you can see how our magnetic field was in the past. Against the backdrop of a smoking volcano, De Groot pulls out a solid motorized apple corer. With a crackle, he saw a cylinder from solidified lava flows, containing metallic particles that focused on the magnetic field during an eruption. It may say something about what lies ahead.
“Magnetic north is moving anyway,” says De Groot. Compasses pointed to a point in Canada in the distant past, and each year that magnetic north moves tens of kilometers. In recent years it has gotten even faster. ‘With more than a hundred kilometers per year. We are trying to find out what this means.
Is something going to happen then?
It is not surprising that the Earth’s magnetic field is changing. It is there because our planet rotates while the core is made of solid and liquid metal. A bit like a dynamo, it creates magnetism. And because so much is brewing and changing under the Earth’s crust, the Earth’s magnetic field can change. Fortunately, this usually happens slowly. But there are places where it has become quite weak, such as parts of South America. “Your compass will always work,” says De Groot. “But the protection is less there.” And that fuels speculation. Is something going to happen then?
See also De Kennis van Nu’s special, ‘The wandering North Pole‘, on NPO Start.
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