Over billions of years, the total carbon content of the outer part of the Earth -- in its upper mantle, crust, oceans, and atmospheres -- has gradually increased, scientists reported this month in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Craig Manning, a professor of geology and geochemistry at UCLA, and Peter Kelemen, a geochemistry professor at Columbia University, present new analyses that represent an important advance in refining our understanding of Earth's deep carbon cycle.
Manning and Kelemen studied how carbon, the chemical basis of all known life, behaves in a variety of tectonic settings. They assessed, among other factors, how much carbon is added to Earth's crust and how much carbon is released into the atmosphere. The new model combines measurements, predictions and calculations.
Their research includes analysis of existing data on samples taken at sites around the world as well as new data from Oman.
The carbon 'budget' near the Earth's surface exerts important controls on global climate change and our energy resources, and has important implications for the origin and evolution of life, Manning said. Yet much more carbon is stored in the deep Earth. The surface carbon that is so important to us is made available chiefly by volcanic processes originating deep in the planet's interior.
Today carbon can return to Earth's deep interior only by subduction -- the geologic process by which one tectonic plate moves under another tectonic plate and sinks into the Earth's mantle. Previous research suggested that roughly half of the carbon stored in subducted oceanic mantle, crust and sediments makes it into the deep mantle. Kelemen and Manning's new analysis suggests instead that subduction may return almost no carbon to the mantle, and that 'exchange between the deep interior and surface reservoirs is in balance.'
Some carbon must make it past subduction zones. Diamonds form in the mantle both from carbon that has never traveled to Earth's surface, known as primordial carbon, and from carbon that has cycled from the mantle to the surface and back again, known as recycled carbon. Manning and Kelemen corroborated their findings with a calculation based on the characteristics of diamonds, which form from carbon in the earth's mantle.
Deep carbon is important because the carbon at the Earth's surface, on which we depend, 'exists only by permission of the deep Earth,' Manning said, quoting a friend. At times in the Earth's history, the planet has been warmer (in the Cretaceous period, for example), and shallow seas covered North America. The new research sheds light on the Earth's climate over geologic time scales.
Stuart Wolpert | EurekAlert!
Mars’ atmosphere well protected from the solar wind
08.12.2017 | Schwedischer Forschungsrat - The Swedish Research Council
Study reveals significant role of dust in mountain ecosystems
07.12.2017 | University of Wyoming
The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...
With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong
Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...
An interdisciplinary group of researchers interfaced individual bacteria with a computer to build a hybrid bio-digital circuit - Study published in Nature Communications
Scientists at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) have managed to control the behavior of individual bacteria by connecting them to a...
Physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (run jointly by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics) have developed an attosecond electron microscope that allows them to visualize the dispersion of light in time and space, and observe the motions of electrons in atoms.
The most basic of all physical interactions in nature is that between light and matter. This interaction takes place in attosecond times (i.e. billionths of a...
Transistors based on carbon nanostructures: what sounds like a futuristic dream could be reality in just a few years' time. An international research team working with Empa has now succeeded in producing nanotransistors from graphene ribbons that are only a few atoms wide, as reported in the current issue of the trade journal "Nature Communications."
Graphene ribbons that are only a few atoms wide, so-called graphene nanoribbons, have special electrical properties that make them promising candidates for the...
08.12.2017 | Event News
07.12.2017 | Event News
05.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Life Sciences
08.12.2017 | Information Technology
08.12.2017 | Information Technology