Encyclopedia of Geomagnetism and Paleomagnetism

2007 Edition
| Editors: David Gubbins, Emilio Herrero-Bervera

Voyages Making Geomagnetic Measurements

  • David R. Barraclough
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-4423-6_316


The  magnetic compass (q.v.) has been used in Western Europe since the early or middle 12th century (see History of Geomagnetism). By 1187 a form with pivoted needle was described by Alexander Neckam, a monk at St. Albans, in his De naturis rerum. At this time, however, and for the next two and a half centuries, it was believed that the compass pointed toward true north. As long as this was the case, there was no reason to make or record any form of magnetic measurement.

Even when (probably sometime about the middle of the 15th century) it was realized that the magnetic needle did not, in general, point true north the situation with regard to making measurements did not change. The discrepancy in pointing was regarded more as a fault of the needle itself or of the method of magnetizing it rather than as being caused by some external agency.

And yet, some glimmering of the truth seems to have begun to dawn. Instrument makers in different parts of Europe began to compensate...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Beaglehole, J.C., 1934. The Exploration of the Pacific. London: A & C Black.Google Scholar
  2. van Bemmelen, W., 1899. Die Abweichung der Magnetnadel; Beobachtungen, Säcularvariation, Wert‐und Isogonensysteme bis zur Mitte des XVIII ten Jahrhunderts. Observations of the Royal Magnetic and Meteorological Observatory, Batavia, 21(Suppl): 109 pp.Google Scholar
  3. Gauss, C.F., 1833. Intensitas vis magneticae terrestris ad mensuram absolutam revocata. Göttingen: Dieterich.Google Scholar
  4. Hakluyt, R., 1598–1600. The Principal Navigations Voyages Traffiques & Discoveries of the English Nation Made by Sea or Over‐Land in the Remote and Farthest Distant Quarters of the Earth at any Time Within the Compasse of these 1600 Years. London: George Bishop, Ralph Newberie, and Robert Barker (Reprinted: 1903–1905 in 12 Volumes. Glasgow: J. Maclehose & Sons).Google Scholar
  5. Hansteen, C., 1819. Untersuchungen über den Magnetismus der Erde. Christiania (Oslo): Lehmann & Gröndahl.Google Scholar
  6. Harradon, H.D., 1943. Some early contributions to the history of geomagnetism—V. Terrestrial Magnetism and Atmospheric Electricity, 48: 197–199.Google Scholar
  7. Harradon, H.D., 1944. Some early contributions to the history of geomagnetism—VII. Terrestrial Magnetism and Atmospheric Electricity, 49: 185–198.Google Scholar
  8. Jonkers, A.R.T., Jackson, A., and Murray, A., 2003. Four centuries of geomagnetic data from historical records. Reviews of Geophysics, 41(2): 1006 (doi: 10.1029/2002RG000115).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Mitchell, A.C., 1937. Chapters in the history of terrestrial magnetism. II. The discovery of the magnetic declination. Terrestrial Magnetism and Atmospheric Electricity, 42: 241–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Purchas, S., 1625. Purchas his Pilgrimes. In five books. The first, containing the voyages (…) made by ancient kings (…) and others, to and throw the remoter parts of the known world, etc. 4 Parts. London: W. Stansby, for H. Fetherstone (Reprinted: 1905–1907 as Hackluytus Posthumus (or) Purchas His Pilgrimes: Containing a History of the World in Sea Voyages and Land Travels by Englishmen and Others. 20 Volumes. Glasgow: J. Maclehose & Sons).Google Scholar
  11. Sabine, E., 1868. Contributions to Terrestrial Magnetism, No. XI. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, 158: 371–416.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Sabine, E., 1872. Contributions to terrestrial magnetism, No. XIII. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, 162: 353–433.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Sabine, E., 1875. Contributions to terrestrial magnetism, No. XIV. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, 165: 161–203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Sabine, E., 1877. Contributions to terrestrial magnetism, No. XV. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, 167: 461–508.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Thrower, N.J.W. (ed.), 1980. The Three Voyages of Edmond Halley in the “Paramore” 1698–1701, Second Series, Nos. 156, 157. London: The Hakluyt Society.Google Scholar
  16. Veinberg, B.P., 1929–1933. Catalogue of Magnetic Determinations in USSR and in Adjacent Countries from 1556 to 1926, Parts 1, 2 & 3. Leningrad (St. Petersburg): Central Geophysical Observatory.Google Scholar
  17. Veinberg, B.P., and Shibaev, V.P. (Editor‐in‐Chief: Pushkov, A.N.), 1969. Catalogue. The Results of Magnetic Determinations at Equidistant Points and Epochs, 1500–1940. Moscow: IZMIRAN (English translation: No. 0031 by the Canadian Department of the Secretary of State, Translation Bureau, 1970).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • David R. Barraclough

There are no affiliations available