Intensive course: Earth Magnetism and Paleogeography (GEO-DEEP9501)

October 2021 we will offer an intensive DEEP course (5 ECTS) on "Earth Magnetism and Paleogeography" (GEO-DEEP9501). If you are interested in joining the course please save the dates October 4- 8, 2021.

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Intensive course: Earth Magnetism and Paleogeography. Figure: Pavel V. Doubrovine, UiO

The course is offered as part of the lecture series "GEO-DEEP9500 Special Topics in Dynamics and Evolution of the Earth and Planets". It is hosted by the Research School DEEP in cooperation with the Ivar Giæver Geomagnetic Laboratory. The course is mainly designed for graduate students with a broad interest in geophysics, geology and planetary science.

Course content

The course provides a comprehensive overview of the Earth magnetism at the present time (geomagnetism) and in the geologic past (paleomagnetism). The main focus of the course is applications of paleomagnetism to paleogeographic reconstructions and motions of lithospheric plates. We will also discuss recent advances in our understanding of the evolution of geomagnetic field in the context of the Earth dynamics at the planetary scale.


Apply within 5 September using our online application form. 

Sign up here! 

Following topics will be covered in the course:

Geomagnetic field
You will learn about why the Earth has a strong planetary magnetic field, where and how it is generated, how we measure and describe the field, how it changes on a short and longer time scales, and how this information can help us to constrain the motions of lithospheric plates in the geologic past. 

Geodynamo, dipole and multipole fields
You will learn why the geomagnetic field is dominantly dipolar, the fundamental dipole equations, how we describe non-dipole fields using spherical harmonic analysis, and how well a pure dipole field approximates the actual magnetic field of the Earth on different time scaled.

Magnetism of rocks and minerals
Here you will learn about most common magnetic minerals, how rocks get magnetized, types of magnetization, and laboratory procedures for measuring natural remanent magnetism of rocks.

You will learn the fundamentals of paleomagnetism, including methods for collecting rock samples for paleomagnetic studies, measuring and isolating characteristic components of remanent magnetization, statistical analysis of paleomagnetic data, calculation of paleomagnetic poles, how we construct the paths of apparent polar wander, and what they can tell us about paleogeography.

Common applications of paleomagnetism
You will learn about other useful applications of paleomagnetism, including magnetostratigraphy, geomagnetic reversals, polarity timescales, applications to local and regional tectonics, interpretation of marine magnetic anomalies. We will also discuss techniques for measuring the intensity and variability of the geomagnetic field in the past, and what these data tell us about the evolution of the Earth’s core and geodynamo.

Paleogeographic reconstructions
You will learn about reference frames for reconstructing past configurations of lithospheric plates (with respect to the paleoequator and with respect to the Earth’s mantle), fundamentals of plate tectonics, techniques for constraining paleogeography and true polar wander. We will also talk about the concept of supercontinent cycle (Wilson cycle) and introduce supercontinents that have existed in the Mesozoic-Paleozoic (Pangea) and Precambrian time (Rodinia, Columbia/Nuna, Kenorland). Here you will be given a primer on using computer software (GPlates) for making your own paleogeographic reconstructions.


The one-week course (ca. 40 hours) will be held in Oslo and will include eight 1.5-hour lectures, laboratory exercises and software training sessions. Course literature will be pre-selected and accessible to course participants in due time prior to the course.

During the course week, each student will be required to give a short oral presentation (ca. 10-15 minutes) on one of the topics discussed in class. The topics will be assigned and literature will be provided by the instructors. The presentation will be followed by a group discussion and will count towards the final grade.

The laboratory work and software training sessions are designed to give course participants hands-on experience with paleomagnetic analyses and plate reconstructions, so that working as a group, they will complete a small research project that involves performing magnetic measurements in the laboratory, processing them to collect paleomagnetic data and producing a paleogeographic reconstruction using these data. Students will be required to present the preliminary results of the project in class on the last day of the course week and submit a final report describing the outcomes within a month after the course week.

Obligatory activities:

  • Research project
  • Group presentation of preliminary results of the research projec


Instructors: Pavel V. Doubrovine, Evgeniy V. Kulakov, Mathew Domeier
Featured lecture: Prof. Trond H. Torsvik
Lab instructor: Petter Silkoset


The examination includes an oral presentation on an assigned topic and a home examination. Both parts must be passed separately in order to pass the course.

Home examination occurs after the course week. As a home exam, each student will be required to write a report on the completed research project. Note that while students will work in a group on the research project during the course week, and the collected data will be shared among them, the reports must be written individually and delivered within one month after the course week and within the semester.

The obligatory activities, which include a research project and a group presentation of the preliminary results of this project (see the "Teaching" above), must be approved before a student can take the home exam.


Grades are awarded on the pass/fail scale.

Admission to the course

The course is open to PhD candidates enrolled in the Norwegian Research School for Dynamics and Evolution of Earth and Planets (DEEP). PhD candidates who are admitted to other education institutions than UiO must at the same time apply for visiting PhD status. They must submit the same documentation as regular visiting status applicants, but the application and documentation is to be delivered together with the online application form. DEEP can be contacted for questions. Applicants must be able to present original documentation on request.

Master's students at UiO are also welcome to apply for the course if there is still available spot. Please note that we cannot offer you an exam result directly and you need to contact student administration at your institute in order to make a special syllabous for you. 

There is an upper limit of 12 participants for the course; participants will be admitted on a first-come-first-served basis. PhD students are in priority group since DEEP is a national PhD research school. 

The course has no participation fee. All national DEEP members will get their travel and accommodation costs covered.

NB: Although we may opt to have a digital-attendance option for international students who are unable to travel to Oslo, those residing in Norway are expected to physically attend the course, as there will be a significant practical lab component. DEEP can provide financial support for travel and accommodation costs for any students attending the course (from Norway).

For more information about the course please contact:
Pavel V. Doubrovine:
For general questions regarding DEEP please contact:
Published May 19, 2021 6:56 PM - Last modified Sep. 13, 2021 12:43 PM