July 28, 2021 12:34 GMT
Although more research is still needed in this area, the researchers believe their findings could represent a breakthrough in the fight against climate change.
Recently, a group of scientists from the University of Cambridge (UK) and Nanyang Technological University (Singapore) Discover That a complex tectonic process is pulling more carbon into Earth than was originally thought.
This process is known as subduction, and it consists in the sinking of a plate of the lithosphere under the edge of another plate, forming the so-called convergent boundary. A sinking plate, which is sinking, is usually made up of oceanic crust, thinner and denser than continental, which carries with it the remains of organisms and seashells (which store carbon) toward the depths of the planet.
It was previously thought that most of this carbon was returned to the surface and atmosphere through volcanic eruptions, but new findings from study, published in the scientific journal Nature Communications, indicates that this only occurs with about a third of carbon. The rest remains locked in for the long term.
The researchers conducted a series of experiments in which they reproduced the extreme pressure and high temperatures of subduction zones to create the extreme conditions that occur inside Earth and to gain a better understanding of these processes.
In this way, they found that carbonate rocks become less calcium-rich and more magnesium-rich when they are channeled deeper into the mantle. This chemical shift makes the carbonate less soluble, which means it is not absorbed into the fluids that supply volcanoes. Instead, nearly all of the carbonates sink deep into the mantle, where they can eventually turn into diamonds.
“Our results show that these metals are very stable and can certainly trap carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in solid metallic forms that can lead to negative emissions,” said mineral physicist Simon Redfern from Nanyang Technological University.
Although more research is still needed in this area, Redfern concluded that the study’s findings could represent a breakthrough in the fight against climate change, as they will “help to understand better ways (to speed up the process) of carbon enclosure on solid Earth.” outside the atmosphere.”