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Discussion papers | Copyright
https://doi.org/10.5194/esurf-2018-10
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Short communication 22 Mar 2018

Short communication | 22 Mar 2018

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This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Earth Surface Dynamics (ESurf).

Short Communication: Aging of basalt volcanic systems and decreasing CO2 consumption by weathering

Janine Börker1, Jens Hartmann1, Gibran Romero-Mujalli1, and Gaojun Li2 Janine Börker et al.
  • 1Institute for Geology, CEN (Center for Earth System Research and Sustainability), Universität Hamburg, Bundesstraße 55, 20146 Hamburg, Germany
  • 2MOE Key Laboratory of Surficial Geochemistry, Department of Earth Sciences, Nanjing University, 163 Xianlindadao, Nanjing 210023, China

Abstract. Basalt weathering is one of many relevant processes balancing the global carbon cycle via land-ocean alkalinity fluxes. The CO2 consumption by weathering can be calculated using alkalinity and is often scaled with runoff and/or temperature. Here it is tested if information on the surface age distribution of a volcanic system is a useful proxy for changes in alkalinity production with time.

A linear relationship between temperature normalized alkalinity fluxes and the Holocene area fraction of a volcanic field was identified, using information from 33 basalt volcanic fields, with an r2=0.91. This relationship is interpreted as an aging function and suggests that fluxes from Holocene areas are ~10 times higher than those from old inactive volcanic fields. However, the cause for the decrease with time is probably a combination of effects, including a decrease in alkalinity production from surface near material in the critical zone as well as a decline in hydrothermal activity and magmatic CO2 contribution.

A comparison with global models suggests, that global alkalinity fluxes considering Holocene active basalt areas are ~70% higher than the average from these models imply. The contribution of Holocene areas to the global basalt alkalinity fluxes is however only ~6%, because identified, mapped Holocene basalt areas cover only ~1% of the existing basalt areas. The large trap basalt proportion on the global basalt areas today reduces the relevance of the aging effect. However, the aging effect might be a relevant process during periods of globally, intensive volcanic activity, which remains to be tested.

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