Earth's interior stores carbon, but a recent study found that it is gobbling carbon more than what previous studies have shown. Cambridge University and NTU Singapore scientists found that slow-motion collisions of tectonic plates are trapping more carbon in Earth's interior.

According to the findings of the study, titled "Deep carbon cycle constrained by carbonate solubility" published in the journal Nature Communications, carbon located in the depths of Earth is regulating atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.

However, scientists wrote that only about one-third of carbon is recycled beneath volcanic chains and returns to the surface, contrary to previous studies that say everything that goes down usually comes up.

 Earth's Interior is Absorbing More Carbon Due to Slow-Motion Tectonic Plates, What Does This Imply?
(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
As interest in Earth's changing climate heats up, a tiny dark particle is stepping into the limelight: black carbon. Commonly known as soot, black carbon enters the air when fossil fuels and biofuels, such as coal, wood, and diesel are burned. Black carbon is found worldwide, but its presence and impact are particularly strong in Asia. Black carbon, a short-lived particle, is in perpetual motion across the globe. The Tibetan Plateau's high levels of black carbon likely impact the region's temperature, clouds, and monsoon season.

Carbon in Earth's Interior

According to a book titled Carbon in Earth's Interior, carbon trapped in diamonds and carbonate-bearing rocks in subduction zones where plate tectonics occur are examples of the exchange of carbon between the Earth's surface and its interior. But scientists admit that there is more to learn about the forms, transformations, and movements of carbon in Earth's interior.

WION reported that scientists have said that carbon absorbed inside the Earth remains trapped at great depths and does not return to the surface via a volcanic release. But the new research that focuses on the subduction zones found that only one-third of carbon absorbed is recycled and returns to Earth through recycling.

Carbon is one of the causes of climate change and scientists, groups, and governments are looking for ways to reduce the amount on the planet's atmosphere. Understanding carbon in the Earth's surface and interior will give insights into its nature. Scientists want to know how carbon travels and interacts with the atmosphere, the ocean, and life on Earth in general.

ALSO READ: Microbes of Deep-Sea Community Can Survive Extreme Heat, Influence Carbon Cycling


Chemical Transformation of Carbonate Rocks in Earth's Interior

The team of scientists conducted a series of experiments at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility to replicate the high pressures and temperatures in subduction zones.

As reported by Phys.org, the experiment supports the growing evidence of the chemical transformation of carbonate rocks in the Earth's interior. They found that carbonate rocks become less calcium-rich and more magnesium-rich when channeled into the mantle, making them less soluble and eventually turn into diamonds.

"There is still a lot of research to be done in this field," said lead author Stefan Farsang as quoted by the news outlet. "In the future, we aim to refine our estimates by studying carbonate solubility in a wider temperature, pressure range, and in several fluid compositions."

The findings provide information on the role of carbonate formation in Earth's climate system and showed that these minerals are stable enough to lock up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into solid minerals that result in negative emissions, according to co-author Simon Redfern. 

Redfern said that the findings will also help understand better ways to trap carbon in solid Earth and out of its atmosphere. The faster that scientists could accelerate this process, the more this could help resolve the climate crisis.

RELATED ARTICLE: Earliest Land Plants 400 Million Years Ago Possibly Modified Earth's Climate Regulation

Check out more news and information on Carbon Cycle in Science Times.