Abstract

A carbonate-silicate geochemical cycle model is developed and used to explore dynamic and climatic consequences of constraints on shallow-water carbonate burial and possible carbon loss to the mantle associated with sea-floor subduction. The model partitions carbonate deposition between shallow-water and deep-water environments and includes carbon fluxes between the mantle and lithosphere. When total lithospheric carbonate mass is constant, there are two stable steady states, one in which the carbonate burial flux is mostly continental and another in which it is mostly pelagic. The continental steady state is characterized by a low metamorphic CO2 flux to the atmosphere and predominantly shallow-water carbonate burial.The pelagic steady state is characterized by a high metamorphic CO2 flux and predominantly deep-water carbonate burial. For reasonable parameter values, when total lithospheric car- bonate mass is allowed to vary, the model oscillates between predominantly continental and predominantly pelagic modes. Model results suggest that carbonate deposition patterns established during the Cenozoic may be pushing the Earth system from the continental to the pelagic mode on a time scale of 108 yr, with a possible consequent order-of-magnitude increase in the metamorphic CO2 flux to the atmosphere.

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