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Anisotropy and intensity variations of high-energy particles and magnetic variations detected by IMP-J at 37 Re in the central part of the magnetotail within 2 Re of the neutral sheet were studied during a few consecutive substorms on March 3, 1976, and related to a large body of ground observations. A close correlation is usually found between bursts observed in Pi pulsations on the ground (having a duration of about 1 min and usually being repeated in 1–3 min) and high-energy particle bursts observed in the far tail. The magnetic field response is examined relative to the onsets of high-energy particle bursts. A three-dimensional current system RIPD (Reconnection Induced Propagating Disturbance) is constructed which can, in principle, produce the magnetic field variations observed in the boundary part of the plasma sheet (PS). Previously reported properties of high-energy particle bursts (inverse energy dispersion, preferential acceleration of alpha particles, dawn-dusk asymmetry in the acceleration of electrons and protons and transient PS expansions) are found to be typical of these impulsive processes. Together with earlier results, these observations show that the expansion process (identified here as a transient reconnection or explosive tearing mode) clearly operates in an impulsive fashion. The superposition of impulse-induced propagating disturbances necessarily results in complex, variable patterns of magnetic field and thermal plasma behaviour, such as are frequently found in the PS during substorms.
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