Studying the Earth’s mantle can reveal hidden stories about the planet’s geological history. According to Frieder Klein, an associate scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), rocks can be likened to books with narratives waiting to be told. Klein and his team have been analyzing rocks from the submerged flanks of the St. Peter and St. Paul Archipelago, shedding light on a previously unknown aspect of the geological carbon cycle. Transform faults, such as the St. Paul’s oceanic transform fault, where tectonic plates slide past each other, play a crucial role in the Earth’s geological dynamics.

The research conducted by Klein and his colleagues challenges the notion that transform faults were uninteresting due to low magmatic activity. In their study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), they illustrate how mantle rocks along ocean transform faults can serve as a significant sink for CO2. The partial melting of the mantle releases CO2 entrained in hydrothermal fluid, leading to reactions with the seafloor mantle and subsequent capture of the gas. This process, previously overlooked, contributes to the Earth’s carbon cycle in ways that were not previously understood.

Klein emphasizes that although the CO2 emissions from transform faults are minimal compared to anthropogenic sources, they have played a significant role in shaping Earth’s climate over geological timescales. By considering natural carbon cycles and fluctuations in the Earth’s deep past, researchers like Klein aim to provide insights into long-term carbon fluxes between the mantle and the ocean/atmosphere system. These fluxes have been critical in regulating the Earth’s climate and habitability, as well as carbon concentrations in various surface reservoirs.

The study conducted by Klein’s team focused on mineral carbonation processes of mantle peridotite in the St. Paul’s transform fault. By examining the formation of soapstone and magnesite-bearing assemblages, the researchers uncovered the potential for extensive mineral carbonation in this geological setting. The presence of peridotite, coupled with low extents of melting that generate CO2-enriched melts, sets the stage for significant carbon capture within these rocks.

During a 2017 research cruise to the St. Peter and St. Paul Archipelago, the team collected rocks using human-occupied vehicles. This expedition proved to be a turning point in their research, as they finally located the carbonate-altered oceanic mantle rocks they had anticipated for over a decade. According to Klein, the discovery was a dream come true, highlighting the importance of fieldwork in advancing scientific understanding.

The study of mantle rocks in oceanic transform faults has provided valuable insights into the Earth’s geological carbon cycle. By unraveling the processes of mineral carbonation and CO2 capture within these rocks, researchers have expanded our understanding of the planet’s intricate dynamics. Moving forward, continued research in this field will be essential in comprehending the complexities of Earth’s climate system and natural carbon fluxes.

Earth

Articles You May Like

The Mystery of COVID-19 Immunity Unraveled Through Detailed Analysis
The Impact of Fasting on Cancer Fighting Cells
The Alarming Effect of Heat Exposure on Unborn Babies
The Environmental Impact of Nitrate Breathing Bacteria

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *