Biotic enhancement of weathering and the habitability of Earth

  title={Biotic enhancement of weathering and the habitability of Earth},
  author={David Schwartzman and Tyler Volk},
AN important question in the Earth sciences is the role of the biota in the chemical weathering of silicate rocks, which affects atmospheric CO2 and therefore climate1-10. No comprehensive study of biotic influences, however, has quantitatively examined the climatic consequences were weathering to take place under completely abiotic conditions. Here we calculate that if today's weathering is 10, 100 or 1,000 times the abiotic weathering rate, then an abiotic Earth would be, respectively, ∼15… 
The Geobiology of Weathering: a 13th Hypothesis
The magnitude of the biotic enhancement of weathering (BEW) has profound implications for the long-term carbon cycle. The BEW ratio is defined as how much faster the silicate weathering carbon sink
Possibility of chemical weathering before the advent of vascular land plants
CHEMICAL weathering today is generally assumed to occur primarily in soils1,2. The rise of vascular plants during the Silurian and Devonian periods about 400 Myr ago brought about an increase in soil
Biogenic Enhancement of Weathering and the Stability of the Ecosphere
It can be shown that the biosphere is resilient to random perturbation of the global carbon cycle for the next 0.5-1.0 Gyr, which leads to an extension of the life span of theBiosphere by 0.7 Gyr compared to previous studies underestimating the effect of biogenic enhancement of weathering.
Biotic feedback extends the life span of the biosphere
The Sun is becoming more luminous with time and will eventually overheat the biosphere. However, life cools the Earth by amplifying the rate of silicate rock weathering and maintaining a low level of
There has been considerable controversy concerning the role of chem- ical weathering in the regulation of the atmospheric partial pressure of carbon dioxide, and thus the strength of the greenhouse
Global Chemical Erosion during the Cenozoic: Weatherability Balances the Budgets
The question addressed here is whether global chemical weathering and erosion rates have increased over Cenozoic time in response to uplift of the Himalayas.1–2 Chemical weathering of the continents
Weathering in a world without terrestrial life recorded in the Mesoproterozoic Velkerri Formation
Clay minerals from a Precambrian rock record are studied to reveal the weathering processes and find difference in weathering produced minerals preserved in the Mesoproterozoic Velkerri Formation.


Evolution of the atmosphere and oceans
The mineralogy of marine evaporites rules out drastic changes in the composition of sea water during the last 900 Myr, and the chemistry of soils formed more than 1,000 Myr ago suggests that the atmosphere then contained significantly more CO2 and less O2 than at present.
Rise of angiosperms as a factor in long-term climatic cooling
  • T. Volk
  • Environmental Science, Geology
  • 1989
By Late Cretaceous or early Tertiary time, the diversification and proliferation of angiosperm-deciduous ecosystems resulted in higher rates of mineral weathering. This increase in the global average
Climatic consequences of very high carbon dioxide levels in the earth's early atmosphere.
The possible consequences of very high carbon dioxide concentrations in the earth's early atmosphere have been investigated with a radiative-convective climate model, and Earth's present atmosphere appears to be stable against a carbon dioxide-induced runaway greenhouse.
Long-term climate change and the geochemical cycle of carbon.
This model is stable against ice albedo catastrophe even when the ice line occurs at low latitudes, and differs from energy balance models that lack the coupling to the geochemical cycle of carbon.
Effect of the advent and diversification of vascular land plants on mineral weathering through geologic time
The origin of vascular land plants in the Silurian and their subsequent diversification have had a major effect on mineral weathering through geologic tune. The presence of vascular plants reduces
River Chemistry, Geology, Geomorphology, and Soils in the Amazon and Orinoco Basins
In the Amazon and Orinoco basins, the chemistry of rivers can be related to the geology of their catchments when geomorphic factors are taken into consideration. To a first order, erosion processes
Long-term stability of the Earth's climate.
  • J. Kasting
  • Geology, Environmental Science
    Global and planetary change
  • 1989
The chemistry of weathering
Preface.- Chemical Models of Weathering in Soils.- Multicomponent Solid Solutions for Clay Minerals and Computer Modeling of Weathering Processes.- Dissolution Mechanisms of Pyroxenes and Olivines
A negative feedback mechanism for the long‐term stabilization of Earth's surface temperature
We suggest that the partial pressure of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is buffered, over geological time scales, by a negative feedback mechanism in which the rate of weathering of silicate
A comparative study of the role of lichens and "inorganic" processes in the chemical weathering of Recent Hawaiian lava flows
The lichen Stereocaulon vulcani, which grows abundantly on recent lava flows on the Island of Hawaii, greatly accelerates the chemical weathering of its substrate. The importance of the lichen (or