So the program travels with a Utrecht geologist to Mount Etna in Sicily. There you can see what our magnetic field was like in the past. Against the background of a smoke volcano, De Groot pulls a powerful, motorized apple machine. With a crackling sound he saw a cylinder of solidified lava flows, containing mineral particles focused on the magnetic field during the eruption. This might say something about what lies ahead.
“The magnetic north is changing anyway,” de Groot says. Compasses pointed to a point in Canada in the distant past, and every year this magnetic north moves tens of kilometers. In recent years it has become faster. With more than a hundred kilometers a year. We’re trying to figure out what that means.
Is anything going to happen?
Not surprisingly, the Earth’s magnetic field is changing. It exists because our planet rotates while the core is made of solid and liquid metal. A bit like a dynamo, this creates magnetism. And because so much is fermenting and changing under the Earth’s crust, Earth’s magnetic field can change. Fortunately, this usually happens slowly. But there are places where it has become very weak, such as parts of South America. “Your compass will still work,” says de Groot. “But the protection is less there.” This fuels speculation. Is anything going to happen?
Also watch De Kennis van Nu’s special show,arctic wanderer‘, in NPO Start.
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