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When readings of the strength of the magnetic field are taken along sections of the ocean floor near such ridges, segments where it is anomalously high alternate with segments where it is anomalously low.Anomalously high readings occur because the magnetometer is picking up both the reading from today's magnetic field and that from the minerals in the rock that are aligned with it, adding to the total strength of the field, while anomalously low readings occur when the magnetic minerals are aligned against the Earth's magnetic field, diminishing the total strength.A geomagnetic reversal is a change in a planet's magnetic field such that the positions of magnetic north and magnetic south are interchanged, while geographic north and geographic south remain the same.The Earth's field has alternated between periods of normal polarity, in which the direction of the field was the same as the present direction, and reverse polarity, in which the field was the opposite. The time spans of chrons are randomly distributed with most being between 0.1 and 1 with an average of 450,000 years.Certain minerals in rocks lock-in a record of the direction and intensity of the magnetic field when they form.
Like tiny compass needles, the magnetic minerals in the hot magma are at first free to align themselves with the Earth's magnetic field when the magma settles into the tectonic plate, but once the lava cools below the Curie point, their orientation becomes fixed.
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