Is orogenesis a net sink or source of atmospheric CO2?
Article first published online: 17 MAY 2013
© 2013 Blackwell Publishing Ltd, The Geologists' Association & The Geological Society of London
Volume 29, Issue 3, pages 102–107, May/June 2013
How to Cite
Skelton, A. (2013), Is orogenesis a net sink or source of atmospheric CO2?. Geology Today, 29: 102–107. doi: 10.1111/gto.12009
- Issue published online: 17 MAY 2013
- Article first published online: 17 MAY 2013
In global carbon cycle models, orogenesis is often viewed as a sink for atmospheric CO2, acting on tectonic timescales. However, recent attempts to quantify fluxes for CO2 produced by metamorphic reactions and released to the atmosphere suggest that these are an order-of-magnitude greater than CO2 uptake by chemical weathering of silicate minerals, and that metamorphic CO2 is released on millennial timescales. These hypotheses have gained support from both measurements of CO2 emissions from present-day orogenic hot springs and chromatographic modelling of carbonation reactions in metamorphic rocks from ancient orogens. In this article I review research that attempts to quantify metamorphic CO2 release fluxes, focussing specifically on studies conducted in the SW Scottish Highlands.