Journal cover Journal topic
Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Research article
19 Sep 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Climate of the Past (CP).
Arc volcanism, carbonate platform evolution and palaeo-atmospheric CO2: Components and interactions in the deep carbon cycle
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 1EarthByte Group, School of Geosciences, University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia
2Geoscience Australia, GPO Box 378, Canberra 2601, ACT, Australia
3Department of Earth Sciences, University of Oxford, Oxford, OX1 3AN, UK
4Seismological Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, California 91125, USA
5School of Earth Sciences, University of Melbourne, Victoria 3010, Australia
6Department of Earth Science, Rice University, Texas 77005, USA
Abstract. Carbon dioxide (CO2) liberated at arc volcanoes that intersect buried carbonate platforms plays a larger role in influencing atmospheric CO2 than those active margins lacking buried carbonate platforms. This study investigates the contribution of carbonate-intersecting arc activity on palaeo-atmospheric CO2 levels over the past 410 million years by integrating a plate motion model with an evolving carbonate platform development model. Our modelled subduction zone lengths and carbonate-intersecting arc lengths approximate arc activity with time, and can be used as input into fully-coupled models of CO2 flux between deep and shallow reservoirs. Continuous and cross-wavelet as well as wavelet coherence analyses were used to evaluate trends between carbonate-intersecting arc activity, non-carbonate-intersecting arc activity and total global subduction zone lengths and the proxy-CO2 record between 410 Ma and the present. Wavelet analysis revealed significant linked periodic behaviour between 75–50 Ma, where global carbonate-intersecting arc activity is relatively high and where peaks in palaeo-atmospheric CO2 is correlated with peaks in global carbonate-intersecting arc activity, characterised by a ~ 32 Myr periodicity and a 10 Myr lag of CO2 peaks after carbonate-intersecting arc length peaks. The linked behaviour may suggest that the relative abundance of carbonate-intersecting arcs played a role in affecting global climate during the Late Cretaceous to Early Paleogene greenhouse. At all other times, atmospheric CO2 emissions from carbonate-intersecting arcs were not correlated with the proxy-CO2 record. Our analysis did not support the idea that carbonate-intersecting arc activity is more important than non-carbonate intersecting arc activity in driving changes in palaeo-atmospheric CO2 levels. This suggests that tectonic controls are more elaborate than the subduction-related volcanic emissions component or that other feedback mechanisms between the geosphere, atmosphere and biosphere played larger roles in modulating climate in the Phanerozoic.

Citation: Pall, J., Zahirovic, S., Doss, S., Hassan, R., Matthews, K. J., Cannon, J., Gurnis, M., Moresi, L., Lenardic, A., and Müller, R. D.: Arc volcanism, carbonate platform evolution and palaeo-atmospheric CO2: Components and interactions in the deep carbon cycle, Clim. Past Discuss.,, in review, 2017.
Jodie Pall et al.
Jodie Pall et al.

Data sets

DCO-Modelling-of-Deep Time Atmospheric Carbon Flux from Subduction Zone Interactions: Plate Models & Minor Edits
S. Doss, S. Zahirovic, D. Müller, and J. Pall
Jodie Pall et al.


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Short summary
Carbon dioxide emissions at volcanoes have the potential to influence climate on a global scale, as have likely done so in the past. By using an evolving, plate tectonic model and examining the changing lengths of volcanic chains found near subduction zones, we were able to create a surrogate measure for how global volcanic emissions have fluctuated over the past 410 million years. We found that volcanic emissions likely contributed to greenhouse conditions 75–50 Ma.
Carbon dioxide emissions at volcanoes have the potential to influence climate on a global scale,...