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compass image   Paleomagnetic Data from NGDC / WDC Boulder

The study of magnetism is one of the oldest of the geophysical sciences. It is unique among the sciences in that ancient records of the geomagnetic field are preserved in rocks and changes in the field can be traced through time. To assist scientist studying the Earth's ancient magnetization, the National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC) is making available the following data of paleopole positions and paleomagnetic directions.

IAGA Logo    IAGA Paleomagnetic Databases

NGDC is pleased to archive and distribute via ftp the IAGA sponsored Paleomagnetic Databases initiated by McElhinny et. al. The seven IAGA databases are described below. The Geological Survey of Norway provides web access to the Global Paleomagnetic Database (see Web Access below).


There are seven databases as follows:

  1. Global Paleomagnetic Database - Ver. 4.6
  2. Archeomagnetic directional database (Archeo97 or Archeo00)
  3. Magnetostratigraphy Database (Magst97 or Magst00)
  4. Paleointensity Database (Pint97 or Pint00)
  5. Paleosecular Variation for Lavas 0-5 Ma - Ver. 4.1 (Psvrl97 or Psvrl00)
  6. Secular Variation from Lake Sediments (Secvr97 or Secvr00)
  7. Polarity Transitions Database (Trans97 or Trans00)

The Archeomagnetic directional database, Paleointensity database, and Secular Variation from Lake Sediments database (numbers 2, 4 and 6 above) have no new information included from the previous versions (3.4 May 1999). All other databases are complete up to December 1999 and in some cases include data from early in 2000.


McElhinny and Lock (1996) give a description of the Access versions of the GPMDB, TRANS and SECVR. Details of PSVRL are given in McElhinny and McFadden (1997). Perrin, Schnepp and Shcherbakov (1998) give a brief description of PINT and McElhinny, Opdyke and Pisarevsky (1998) give a description of MAGST. ARCHEO is a new archeomagnetic directional database compiled by Don Tarling at the University of Southampton, U.K. It is not yet complete but was released in 1999.


McElhinny, M.W. and Lock, J. (1996). IAGA paleomagnetic databases with Access, Surv. Geophys.,17,575-591.
McElhinny, M.W. and McFadden, P.L. (1997). Palaeosecular variation over the past 5 Myr based on a new generalized database, Geophys. J. Int., 131, 240-252.
McElhinny, M.W., Opdyke, N.D. and Pisarevsky, S.A. (1998). Worldwide database for magnetostratigraphy available, EOS, Trans. Amer. Geophys. Union, 79, 167.
Perrin, M., Schnepp, E. and Shcherbakov, V. (1998). Update of the paleointensity database, EOS, Trans. Amer. Geophys. Union, 79, 198.

Web Access

Online access to the GPMDB database:

  1. Access the Global Database directly at the web site set up by the Norwegian Geological Survey also provides two additional search paths:
    1. Literature reference number in the GPMDB REFNO
    2. Paleomagnetic result number in the GPMDB RESULTNO

Paleomagnetic Principles and Practices

Lisa Tauxe, offers an on-line version of companion software to the book Paleomagnetic Principles and Practice. The PMAG programs are designed to operate in a UNIX (or LINUX) environment.

Web edition of the book: Essentials of Paleomagnetism by Tauxe, L., Butler, R., Banerjee, S.K. and van der Voo, R. and published by the University of California Press (2009).