The magnetic field of the Earth is produced by the magnetic dynamo. What conditions must a rocky body possess in order to exhibit the dynamo?

Clearly, the planet's interior must not be too cold. However, Venus for example, according to Wikipedia, also lacks the dynamo although its interior is hot:

The lack of an intrinsic magnetic field at Venus was surprising given it is similar to Earth in size, and was expected also to contain a dynamo at its core. A dynamo requires three things: a conducting liquid, rotation, and convection. The core is thought to be electrically conductive and, although its rotation is often thought to be too slow, simulations show it is adequate to produce a dynamo. This implies the dynamo is missing because of a lack of convection in the Venusian core.

They offer explanation in which either:

  • Lack of plate tectonics reduces heat gradient and prevents convention in mantle.
  • Inner core is solidified, missing or lacking temperature gradient.

I am interested in more complete list of conditions that are necessary, like for example in this answer about plate tectonics.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Re I am interested in more complete list of conditions that are necessary -- that's not necessarily a good thing to ask for. For one thing, list type questions are a bit frowned upon across the stackexchange network. For another, the answer you pointed to contains a number of incorrect statements. $\endgroup$ Oct 15 '14 at 14:42
  • $\begingroup$ @Irigi The journal Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors had a special issue titled: Planetary Magnetism, Dynamo and Dynamics, see that espescially the article Planetary Magnetic Fields: Observations and Models. sciencedirect.com/science/journal/00319201/187/3 $\endgroup$
    – DavePhD
    Oct 31 '14 at 19:07

Aside from the three requirements already mentioned, electrically conductive fluid, rotation of the planet and convection of the fluid, the main additional requirement is a seed magnetic field. There must be an initial magnetic field for the dynamo to start.

See the following reference for more information: http://astro.berkeley.edu/~gmarcy/astro160/papers/Magnetic_dynamos_physics.pdf


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.