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Science. 2016 Apr 22;352(6284):444-7. doi: 10.1126/science.aad5787.

Continental arc volcanism as the principal driver of icehouse-greenhouse variability.

Author information

1
Department of Geology and Geophysics, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06511, USA. Department of Geological Sciences, Jackson School of Geosciences, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712, USA. Department of Earth Sciences, University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong, China. ryan.mckenzie@yale.edu.
2
Department of Geological Sciences, Jackson School of Geosciences, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712, USA. Institute for Geophysics, Jackson School of Geosciences, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712, USA.
3
Department of Geological Sciences, Jackson School of Geosciences, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712, USA.
4
Department of Geology and Geophysics, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06511, USA.
5
Department of Earth Sciences, Rice University, Houston, TX 77005, USA.

Abstract

Variations in continental volcanic arc emissions have the potential to control atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels and climate change on multimillion-year time scales. Here we present a compilation of ~120,000 detrital zircon uranium-lead (U-Pb) ages from global sedimentary deposits as a proxy to track the spatial distribution of continental magmatic arc systems from the Cryogenian period to the present. These data demonstrate a direct relationship between global arc activity and major climate shifts: Widespread continental arcs correspond with prominent early Paleozoic and Mesozoic greenhouse climates, whereas reduced continental arc activity corresponds with icehouse climates of the Cryogenian, Late Ordovician, late Paleozoic, and Cenozoic. This persistent coupled behavior provides evidence that continental volcanic outgassing drove long-term shifts in atmospheric CO2 levels over the past ~720 million years.

PMID:
27102480
DOI:
10.1126/science.aad5787
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