Section: Application Domains

Inverse magnetization problems

Participants : Laurent Baratchart, Sylvain Chevillard, Juliette Leblond, Konstantinos Mavreas.

Generally speaking, inverse potential problems, similar to the one appearing in Section 4.3, occur naturally in connection with systems governed by Maxwell's equation in the quasi-static approximation regime. In particular, they arise in magnetic reconstruction issues. A specific application is to geophysics, which led us to form the Inria Associate Team Impinge (Inverse Magnetization Problems IN GEosciences) together with MIT and Vanderbilt University. A recent collaboration with Cerege (CNRS, Aix-en-Provence), in the framework of the ANR-project MagLune, completes this picture, see Section 7.2.2.

To set up the context, recall that the Earth's geomagnetic field is generated by convection of the liquid metallic core (geodynamo) and that rocks become magnetized by the ambient field as they are formed or after subsequent alteration. Their remanent magnetization provides records of past variations of the geodynamo, which is used to study important processes in Earth sciences like motion of tectonic plates and geomagnetic reversals. Rocks from Mars, the Moon, and asteroids also contain remanent magnetization which indicates the past presence of core dynamos. Magnetization in meteorites may even record fields produced by the young sun and the protoplanetary disk which may have played a key role in solar system formation.

For a long time, paleomagnetic techniques were only capable of analyzing bulk samples and compute their net magnetic moment. The development of SQUID microscopes has recently extended the spatial resolution to sub-millimeter scales, raising new physical and algorithmic challenges. The associate team Impinge aims at tackling them, experimenting with the SQUID microscope set up in the Paleomagnetism Laboratory of the department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at MIT. Typically, pieces of rock are sanded down to a thin slab, and the magnetization has to be recovered from the field measured on a planar region at small distance from the slab.

Mathematically speaking, both inverse source problems for EEG from Section 4.3 and inverse magnetization problems described presently amount to recover the (3-D valued) quantity m (primary current density in case of the brain or magnetization in case of a thin slab of rock) from measurements of the potential:

Ω div m ( x ' ) d x ' | x - x ' | , (1)

outside the volume Ω of the object. The difference is that the distribution m is located in a volume in the case of EEG, and on a plane in the case of rock magnetization. This results in quite different identifiability properties, see  [38] and Section 5.1.1, but the two situations share a substantial Mathematical common core.

Another timely instance of inverse magnetization problems lies with geomagnetism. Satellites orbiting around the Earth measure the magnetic field at many points, and nowadays it is a challenge to extract global information from those measurements. In collaboration with C. Gerhards from the University of Vienna, Apics has started to work on the problem of separating the magnetic field due to the magnetization of the globe's crust from the magnetic field due to convection in the liquid metallic core. The techniques involved are variants, in a spherical context, from those developed within the Impinge associate team for paleomagnetism, see Section 5.1.1.