Studying old stone walls of New England shows how magnetic pole has wandered

Studying old stone walls of New England shows how magnetic pole has wandered
Old New England stone wall. YouTube video

[Ed. – Something besides politics to get through Monday with.  This is fascinating. Presumably there are parts of Europe where such studies would be fruitful, but since the surveying that lay behind the boundary walls was systematically undertaken more in the “new” lands being discovered than in old Europe, where property claims already went back centuries, it may be that places like the U.S., Canada, and Australia offer the most material.]

Under the forests of New York and New England, a hidden tracery of tumbledown stone walls marks the boundaries of early American farms, long abandoned for city jobs and less stony pastures in the West.

These monuments of an agrarian past also mark past locations of Earth’s itinerant magnetic north pole, a record leveraged by geochemist and local history buff John Delano to reconstruct a history of our planet’s magnetic field in eastern North America in a new study published in AGU’s Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth. …

Delano had a eureka moment while looking at map from 1790. From the jumble of stone walls on his present-day map, a grid pattern emerged that looked much like the property boundaries of the many 100-acre farms in the late 18th century township.

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Delano got his hands on hundreds of original, 18th and 19th century surveys from the New York State archives and overlaid modern aerial images of the stone walls to find the walls that marked the old property boundaries…

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