II Erosion and the Carbon Cycle

Principal aim: To identify and constrain the mechanisms by which erosion influences Earth’s Carbon Cycle.

The erosion-aided geological draw down of CO₂ is essential to the relative stability of Earth’s climate on long time scales that has permitted emergence of life and evolution of complex organisms. Moreover, burial of erosionally sourced organic carbon contributes to the formation of hydrocarbon deposits in predictable locations and quantities. The group explores the natural pathways via which CO₂ is exchanged between Earth’s atmosphere and geological repositories. Emphasis will be on weathering in surface and subsurface reservoirs; biological mediation of rock mass disintegration and weathering; transfer of organic carbon to soils; the role of soil erosion and landsliding; the delivery of organic carbon to geological depocentres; and the preservation of organic carbon in geological storage. An explicit target of research in this area is to quantitatively constrain the carbon mass budget of an active orogenic system in the first instance, and other major tectonic units thereafter. The group also works on the integration of dissolved inorganic and particulate organic carbon fluxes in numerical models of landscape dynamics in order to enable detailed explorations of scenarios involving geomorphic, climatic or tectonic change over longer time scales.