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India-Asia Collision drove atmospheric CO2 in the Cenozoic !


To earth scientists, understanding the evolution of Earth´s atmosphere over geological time touches a fascinating intersection of geological questions such as: “How did the Earth accrete?”, “How did the continents grow?” “When did life first arise?” “How have global catastrophes influenced Earth History and Life?”. Such science also underlies what we can say about the extraordinary anthropogenic origins of today´s atmospheric chemistry.

In a collaboration between scientists from China, the UK and Germany an extraordinary step has been taken towards quantifying our understanding of Earth´s Cenozoic atmosphere. In particular, the tectonic and volcanic contributions towards atmospheric CO2 from deep terrestrial sources have been studied using the India-Asia collision. This study has taken the quantification of metamorphic and volcanic sources of CO2 to a new level of precision and documentation. The broad conclusion is that the collision of India with Asia over the past 65 million years can indeed account for variations in atmospheric CO2 on this geological timescale (before the ascent of modern man). In the geological past, mountain building was apparently atmosphere building!

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