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Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 14, issue 6
Clim. Past, 14, 857-870, 2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Clim. Past, 14, 857-870, 2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 21 Jun 2018

Research article | 21 Jun 2018

The influence of carbonate platform interactions with subduction zone volcanism on palaeo-atmospheric CO2 since the Devonian

Jodie Pall1, Sabin Zahirovic1, Sebastiano Doss1, Rakib Hassan1,2, Kara J. Matthews1,3, John Cannon1, Michael Gurnis4, Louis Moresi5, Adrian Lenardic6, and R. Dietmar Müller1 Jodie Pall et al.
  • 1EarthByte Group, School of Geosciences, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia
  • 2Geoscience Australia, GPO Box 378, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia
  • 3Arctic institute of North America, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta T2N 1N4, Canada
  • 4Seismological Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California 91125, USA
  • 5School of Earth Sciences, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria 3010, Australia
  • 6Department of Earth Science, Rice University, Houston, Texas 77005, USA

Abstract. The CO2 liberated along subduction zones through intrusive/extrusive magmatic activity and the resulting active and diffuse outgassing influences global atmospheric CO2. However, when melts derived from subduction zones intersect buried carbonate platforms, decarbonation reactions may cause the contribution to atmospheric CO2 to be far greater than segments of the active margin that lacks buried carbon-rich rocks and carbonate platforms. This study investigates the contribution of carbonate-intersecting subduction zones (CISZs) to palaeo-atmospheric CO2 levels over the past 410 million years by integrating a plate motion and plate boundary evolution model with carbonate platform development through time. Our model of carbonate platform development has the potential to capture a broader range of degassing mechanisms than approaches that only account for continental arcs.

Continuous and cross-wavelet analyses as well as wavelet coherence are used to evaluate trends between the evolving lengths of carbonate-intersecting subduction zones, non-carbonate-intersecting subduction zones and global subduction zones, and are examined for periodic, linked behaviour with the proxy CO2 record between 410Ma and the present. Wavelet analysis reveals significant linked periodic behaviour between 60 and 40Ma, when CISZ lengths are relatively high and are correlated with peaks in palaeo-atmospheric CO2, characterised by a 32–48Myr periodicity and a  ∼ 8–12Myr lag of CO2 peaks following CISZ length peaks. The linked behaviour suggests that the relative abundance of CISZs played a role in affecting global climate during the Palaeogene. In the 200–100Ma period, peaks in CISZ lengths align with peaks in palaeo-atmospheric CO2, but CISZ lengths alone cannot be determined as the cause of a warmer Cretaceous–Jurassic climate. Nevertheless, across the majority of the Phanerozoic, feedback mechanisms between the geosphere, atmosphere and biosphere likely played dominant roles in modulating climate. Our modelled subduction zone lengths and carbonate-intersecting subduction zone lengths approximate magmatic activity through time, and can be used as input into fully coupled models of CO2 flux between deep and shallow carbon reservoirs.

Publications Copernicus
Short summary
Subduction zones intersecting buried carbonate platforms liberate significant atmospheric CO2 and have the potential to influence global climate. We model the spatio-temporal distribution of carbonate platform accumulation within a plate tectonic framework and use wavelet analysis to analyse linked behaviour between atmospheric CO2 and carbonate-intersecting subduction zone (CISZ) lengths since the Devonian. We find that increasing CISZ lengths likely contributed to a warmer Palaeogene climate.
Subduction zones intersecting buried carbonate platforms liberate significant atmospheric CO2...