Volcanoes tied to shifts in Earth's climate over millions of years

Volcanoes tied to shifts in Earth's climate over millions of years
Volcano Licancabur, an active volcano in the Andean continental volcanic arc on the Chile-Bolivia border, looms above flamingos in a nearby lake. Credit: Brian Horton

A new study in the April 22 edition of Science reveals that volcanic activity associated with the plate-tectonic movement of continents may be responsible for climatic shifts from hot to cold over tens and hundreds of millions of years throughout much of Earth's history.

The study, led by researchers at The University of Texas at Austin Jackson School of Geosciences, addresses why the Earth has fluctuated from periods when the planet was covered in ice to times when even the polar regions were ice-free.

The study explores very long-term shifts in Earth's baseline climate, not short-term or human-induced climate change.

Lead researcher Ryan McKenzie said the team found that periods when volcanoes along continental arcs were more active coincided with warmer, or greenhouse, conditions over the past 720 million years. Conversely, periods when continental arc volcanos were less active coincided with colder, or icehouse, conditions.

Continental volcanic arc systems such as the Andes Mountains are created at active continental margins where two tectonic plates meet and the oceanic plate descends under the continental plate, forming a subduction zone. When this happens, magma mixes with carbon trapped in the Earth's crust and releases carbon dioxide (CO2) gas into the atmosphere when volcanoes in the system erupt.

"Continental arc systems are plumbed through the Earth's crust and they tend to interact with carbon reservoir rock preserved beneath the surface," said McKenzie, who began the work as a postdoctoral researcher at the Jackson School and finished the study at Yale University.

Scientist have long known that the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere influences the Earth's climate, McKenzie said. The unanswered question is what caused the fluctuations in CO2 observed in the geologic record. Other theories have suggested that geological forces such as mountain building have, at different times in the planet's history, introduced large amounts of new material to the Earth's surface, and weathering of that material has drawn CO2 out of the atmosphere. The new study points to the amount of CO2 being released into the atmosphere, rather than the amount removed from it, as the primary driver of Earth's climate.

Using nearly 200 published studies and their own fieldwork and data, researchers created a global database to reconstruct the volcanic history of continental margins over the past 720 million years.

"We studied sedimentary basins next to former volcanic arcs, which were eroded away over hundreds of millions of years," said co-author Brian Horton, a professor in the Jackson School's Department of Geological Sciences. "The distinguishing part of our study is that we looked at a very long geologic record - 720 million years - through multiple greenhouse-icehouse events."

Specifically, researchers looked at the uranium-lead crystallization ages of the mineral zircon, which is largely created during continental volcanic arc activity. Zircon is less common in other types of volcanic settings, such as hot spots like Hawaii or island arc volcanoes such as the Marianas, so the mineral can be used to track continental arc volcanism. For the study, they looked at data for roughly 120,000 zircon grains from thousands of samples across the globe.

"We're looking at changes in zircon production on various continents throughout Earth's history and seeing how the changes correspond with the various icehouse and greenhouse transitions," McKenzie said. "Ultimately, we find that during intervals of high zircon production we have greenhouse conditions, and as zircon production diminishes, we see a shift into our icehouse conditions."

The cooler icehouse periods tended to correlate with the assembly of the Earth's supercontinents, which was a time of diminished continental volcanism, Horton said. The warmer greenhouse periods correlated with continental breakup, a time of enhanced continental volcanism.


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Volcano location could be greenhouse-icehouse key

More information: "Continental arc volcanism as the principal driver of icehouse-greenhouse variability," DOI: 10.1126/science.aad5787
Journal information: Science

Citation: Volcanoes tied to shifts in Earth's climate over millions of years (2016, April 21) retrieved 19 October 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2016-04-volcanoes-tied-shifts-earth-climate.html
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Apr 21, 2016
"The cooler icehouse periods tended to correlate with the assembly of the Earth's supercontinents, which was a time of diminished continental volcanism, Horton said. The warmer greenhouse periods correlated with continental breakup, a time of enhanced continental volcanism." ---- A sample of continental breakup - the East African Rift - a big source of CO2.

Apr 21, 2016
I'm guessing, changes to ocean circulation as these landmasses moved, could not have had anything to do with it.

Apr 21, 2016
Really???.. Not humans???

Apr 22, 2016
You didn't even read the first sentence of the article, shame.

"...plate-tectonic movement of continents may be responsible for climatic shifts from hot to cold over tens and hundreds of millions of years..."

Apr 22, 2016
40 earthquakes so far for 2016 since the beginning of the year.

http://earthquake.usgs.gov

Present shifting and upheavals of landmasses are bound to free up GHG from the mantle.

Apr 22, 2016
http://www.le.ac....re3.html

The point seems to be that, even without the presence of humans using fossil fuels, the same process that has happened geologically for millions of years will continue to do so, with or without us.

Apr 22, 2016
I'm guessing, changes to ocean circulation as these landmasses moved, could not have had anything to do with it.


No monkey wrong yet again, but the changes in your head caused you not to understand the science, yes ? now now bonobo, try to think... ;)

Apr 22, 2016
Really???.. Not humans???

no, only monkeys ie your sockpuppet antisciencegorilla trying to think without success ;)

Apr 22, 2016
Really???.. Not humans???

no, only monkeys ie your sockpuppet antisciencegorilla trying to think without success ;)

- Helo Menelo

FYI, the name "antigoresockpuppet" (and many others) is another one of Otto's legion of sock puppets. Otto uses them to fool all who are interested in science. You should have recognized that by now.
I doubt that antigoracle has any need to use sock puppets.
If I am misquoting, sorry about that.

Apr 22, 2016
nope antigoracle has endless sockpuppets, and you seem very suspectable to be another one of his sockpuppets, helo would know i will ask him. he is refering to antigoracle anyway, you confused ?

Apr 22, 2016
nope antigoracle has endless sockpuppets, and you seem very suspectable to be another one of his sockpuppets, helo would know i will ask him. he is refering to antigoracle anyway, you confused ?
- Pumaster

LOL I don't need a sock puppet. I'm fine with the user name that I am, and have been using, since 2012. You should be able to recognize my user name by my comments. I concentrate on the science, but when I am abused verbally by Otto or Otto's sock puppets, I tend to respond in kind.
Some people don't like that. Too bad.

No, I'm not confused. But I think that antigoracle is being blamed needlessly.

Apr 23, 2016
I don't need a sock puppet
wanna try again, liar?
posted Aug 16, 2013
I myself have created 2 sockpuppets to use in this Phys.org
http://phys.org/n...ory.html

posted SEP 27, 2013
I have Obama_socks for political and religion threads, and I have 2 other names that I have been using to comment in threads whose science topic interests me...and then I have another one which is my primary name I was using in this Physorg
http://phys.org/n...ers.html

so that is at least four socks you've admitted to having on PO alone... but you lied about, repeatedly...
like here: http://phys.org/n...tic.html

or here
http://phys.org/n...ich.html

so long as you continue to lie, you will be outed as a liar
and a pseudoscience / religious fundamentalist crank
I concentrate on the science
like the eu?
in the "New Herschel maps" thread??

Apr 23, 2016
I don't need a sock puppet
wanna try again, liar?
posted Aug 16, 2013
I myself have created 2 sockpuppets to use in this Phys.org
http://phys.org/n...ory.html

so long as you continue to lie, you will be outed as a liar
and a pseudoscience / religious fundamentalist crank
I concentrate on the science
like the eu?
in the "New Herschel maps" thread??

Oooohhh what a Score... lol.. antigoracle's obama sockpuppet really insulted himself with this one ooooooooh... keep 'em coming monkey, i have a feeling it's going to be a fun night here on physorg... :D

Apr 23, 2016
Cue deniers claiming "Teh guhlobule warmnig is teh VULCANOEZ!!!111!!one!" in

3...

2...

1...

Apr 25, 2016
I don't need a sock puppet
wanna try again, liar?
posted Aug 16, 2013
I myself have created 2 sockpuppets to use in this Phys.org
http://phys.org/n...ory.html

so long as you continue to lie, you will be outed as a liar
and a pseudoscience / religious fundamentalist crank
I concentrate on the science
like the eu?
in the "New Herschel maps" thread??
- StumpyRump
Yes, I created a couple of socks and never used them in this website. If you/Otto were looking for them, you wouldn't find them unless you went to my two favorite NEWS websites and knew WHO to look for. Which you didn't...and still don't.
:D
Wait...a religious fundamentalist, eh?
WOOOHOOOO and HOOYII. Are you SURE about that, cher??

Apr 25, 2016
Yes, I created a couple of socks and never used them in this website
OPervert
i am not making this up
this is in your own words
I have Obama_socks for political and religion threads, and I have 2 other names that I have been using to comment in threads whose science topic interests me...and then I have another one which is my primary name I was using in this Physorg
http://phys.org/n...ers.html

4 socks you intentionally used on PO... but you now say you never used them here?
and that link isn't the only place you *freely admit* to your socks... see other above links

so, which is the lie?
the first one?
or now?

given your propensity for chronic lies and advocating religion over science... why should we believe anything you say, especially when you can't validate it with links/references?

and yes, when you promote anything biblical as factual over science or what can be proven, you're a religious fundamentalist fanatic


Apr 25, 2016
, I absolutely know for one that evolution cannot be proven.

Prove it. If you "absolutely know" something (and it isn't just a fanatic belief) then you surely can.

Why don't you just give up that fantasy?

Because it agrees with observation and experiment?
Why give something up that works?

Apr 25, 2016
Yes, I created a couple of socks and never used them in this website
OPervert
i am not making this up
this is in your own words
I have Obama_socks for political and religion threads, and I have 2 other names that I have been using to comment in threads whose science topic interests me...and then I have another one which is my primary name I was using in this Physorg
http://phys.org/n...ers.html

4 socks you intentionally used on PO... but you now say you never used them here?
and that link isn't the only place you *freely admit* to your socks... see other above links

so, which is the lie?
the first one?
or now?

given your propensity for chronic lies and advocating religion over science... why should we believe anything you say, especially when you can't validate it with links/references?



LOL... a double rub in :D !

Monkey's got some memory loss ! lol !

Apr 25, 2016
Captain, I absolutely know for one that evolution cannot be proven
@Bart
then where is your science? where is your Nobel? where is your evidence?
if you could prove that, you would be the most celebrated creationist religious fanatic in history, second only to your jeebus and well over the popes of time
atheists like you
still not an atheist... but don't let facts get in the way of your belief. you never have before...
I think it is because you hate God and morality
nope. i hate delusional religious acolytes interfering with science - and religion in general
until you can provide evidence, you can't say you can "prove" anything... and to date, you give argument from the bible, from strawman, from perceived authority and from belief... not evidence

evidence is the key, so... respectfully, until you can refute all the studies at least in this:
http://www.talkor...comdesc/

you can't talk about proving anything

Apr 25, 2016
@bart cont'd
Instead you demean others with vile words who don't agree with your world view. How pitiful
1- i always give a person the chance to prove their comments, therefore, if i've resorted to any denigration, it is because of the long and demonstrated history of the poster to ignore empirical evidence for the sake of a belief, religion, pseudoscience or simple trolling/baiting

2- what is pitiful is taking a faith (belief) and attempting to force it on others. i don't do that. i've proven my points.
you like to force your opinion on others as factual

religion is like a penis... it's nice that you have one, but when you shove it down peoples throats, they tend to fight back

so, you claim you can prove something, but you never offer anything that is valid
where is the repeatable validated study published in a reputable peer reviewed journal?
to date, you offer only belief over science... not "evidence" or "proof"

Respectfully replied

Apr 25, 2016
Stump, I like the elaborated version. "Religion is like a penis. It's fine to have one, and to be proud of it, but don't start waving it around in public and just don't think about shoving it down my kids' throats!".

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