Carbon is one of the primary molecules used to build living organisms on Earth, and the cycling of carbon in the environment is essential to our planet’s habitability. However, the carbon cycle is not fully understood by scientists today. The influences of processes like tectonics, continental weathering, and seafloor weathering have not been thoroughly described.

A new carbon cycle model has been developed to include the kinetics of seafloor weathering, and to study how this process could have affected ocean pH and the evolution of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere as far back as 100 million years ago. Using the model, researchers have provided new details about the potential atmosphere of the ancient Earth, as well as modern influences on the geological carbon cycle.

The paper, “Constraining climate sensitivity and continental versus seafloor weathering using an inverse geological carbon cycle model,” was published in the journal Nature: Communications. The work was supported by NASA Astrobiology through the Exobiology & Evolutionary Biology Program.