Continued: The story of the deep carbon cycle…

… and the big black bear

Last summer, I was fighting my way through the boreal forests of Newfoundland in Canada, a place well renowned for its wildlife. Hence I was heavily armoured with big hammers, a huge can of strong pepper spray and some bear banger cartridges in my pocket, always smelling of mosquito repellent and making a lot of noise, in order not to surprise a sleeping black bear in the bushes. In the end, I didn’t need the bear spray or the cartridges, but every now and then signs of bears in our field area reminded us of their presence. And I took these safety measures much more seriously after we encountered a black bear close to a local landfill: you just feel small and vulnerable in front of such a huge, beautiful and elegant animal that is only 20 meters away from you, even if your car is just two meters behind you.

Fig1. Some of the wild life a geologist might need to be worried about.

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The story of the oceanic crust and the deep carbon cycle

Where does a story start? Or should we better ask: Where does it end? Some stories even run in circles, happening all the time. One of those stories is the global cycle of chemical elements, a topic many geoscientists are investigating. In the ABYSS project, we all study phenomena that are more or less related to the formation of new oceanic crust. That is the start of a story: magma from the Earth’s mantle rises underneath mid-ocean ridges, where plates are moving apart below kilometers of water; the magma crystallizes and the resulting rocks form these new plates. We can already tell a lot of stories about the processes that happen while new crust is formed, in this dynamic zone of interactions between water, rocks and magma. But in this post, I would like to put those into a larger context: the story does not end after the oceanic crust cools down and is carried away from the mid ocean ridges, where it formed.

Sketch of the deep carbon cycle – how carbon is transported through Earth`s interior.

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