Carbon cycle regulation by plate tectonics


Yves Godderis

From Géosciences Environnement Toulouse (GET), CNRS - Université de Toulouse (France)

The position of the emerged continents is able to modulate the carbon cycle and the climate of the Earth. For instance, polar location of most of the continents will  limit the global efficiency of the pumping of atmospheric CO2 by silicate weathering, owing to the low runoff and temperature. Such a configuration promotes the accumulation of CO2 into the atmosphere and the onset and persistence of warm climate. Not only the position of the continents matters, but also the configuration. Super-continents inhibit runoff, thus weathering, and favors high CO2 and warm climate.

Evaluating the strength of this paleogeographic forcing of the long term evolution of the carbon cycle requires a new generation of deep-time models, able to account for the spatial distribution of the silicate rock weathering fluxes. 

We will review the deep time climatic events that can be related to the « horizontal » tectonics, as well as recent developments regarding the role of mountain uplift (« vertical tectonics ») on the long term climate evolution of the Earth.


Contact the host Trond Torsvik if you would like to speak with this guest.

Published Dec. 31, 2018 10:42 AM - Last modified Mar. 13, 2019 5:05 PM