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Until very recently, the effect of tectonisrn 011 the exogenic phosphorus cycle has been neglected. Currently, the subduction of phosphorus associated with organic matter buried in ocean sediment to the mantle represents a significant flux relative to other fluxes within the exogenic phosphorus cycle. Phosphorus is generally considered to have been the limiting nutrient for oceanic primary production over much of geologic time. Therefore, changes in the total exogenic phosphorus mass control, to a certain extent, the amount of phosphorus available for oceanic production. Over geologic time, the exogenic phosphorus mass is likely governed by plate tectonics; specifically, by the balance between input of newly formed crystalline rock and the output via subduction of oceanic crust and the overlying sediment to the mantle.

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