Connecting the Deep Earth and the Atmosphere

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Trond Helge Torsvik


Most hotspots, kimberlites, and large igneous provinces (LIPs) are sourced by plumes that rise from the margins of two large low shear-wave velocity provinces in the lowermost mantle. These thermochemical provinces have likely been quasi-stable for hundreds of millions, perhaps billions of years, and plume heads rise through the mantle in about 30 Myr or less. LIPs provide a direct link between the deep Earth and the atmosphere but environmental consequences depend on both their volumes and the composition of the crustal rocks they are emplaced through. LIP activity can alter the plate tectonic setting by creating and modifying plate boundaries and hence changing the paleogeography and its long-term forcing on climate. Extensive blankets of LIP-lava on the Earth’s surface can also enhance silicate weathering and potentially lead to CO2 drawdown (cooling), but we find no clear relationship between LIPs and post-emplacement variation in atmospheric CO2 proxies on very long (>10 Myrs) time-scales.
Subduction is a key driving force behind plate tectonics but also a key driver for the long-term climate evolution through arc volcanism and degassing of CO2. Subduction fluxes derived from full-plate models provide a powerful way of estimating plate tectonic CO2 degassing (sourcing) and correlate well with zircon age frequency distributions through time. This suggest that continental arc activity may have played an important role in regulating long-term climate change (greenhouse vs. icehouse conditions) but only the Permo-Carboniferous icehouse (~330-275 Ma) show a clear correlation with the zircon record.



Earth Sciences, Geology, Physical Sciences and Mathematics


weathering, climate, Large Igneous Provinces, atmospheric CO2, Deep Earth, paleogeography, Plumes


Published: 2020-04-30 19:31


GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL) 2.1

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