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What Controls the Long-Term Carbon Cycle?

Presenter: Laurence Coogan, University of Victoria
When: April 5, 2016 3PM PDT

Abstract: The long-term cycling of carbon between rocks and the ocean-atmosphere system on Earth (and perhaps other wet rocky planets) is critical to maintaining a habitable planet. The generally accepted model, dating back to Walker et al. (1981; JGR), is that a negative feedback exists between atmospheric CO2 levels and continental chemical weathering rates and that this acts as a planetary thermostat. However, despite decades of study the link between continental chemical weathering rate and climate have proved difficult to unravel. I will describe an alternative thermostat based on reaction between seawater and the upper oceanic crust. Oceanic crust covers a larger portion of the planet than continental crust, is basaltic in composition making it more reactive than the continental crust and is continually in contact with water. This model will be tested using field observations and geochemical models (e.g. Coogan and Dosso, 2015; EPSL).

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