Carbon dioxide on the early earth

  • James C. G. Walker
Article

Abstract

This paper uses arguments of geochemical mass balance to arrive at an estimate of the partial pressure of carbon dioxide in the terrestrial atmosphere very early in earth history. It appears that this partial pressure could have been as large as 10 bars. This large estimate depends on two key considerations. First, volatiles were driven out of the interior of the earth during the course of earth accretion or very shortly thereafter. This early degassing was a consequence of rapid accretion, which gave the young earth a hot and rapidly convecting interior. Second, the early earth lacked extensive, stable continental platforms on which carbon could be stored in the form of carbonate minerals for geologically significant periods of time. In the absence of continental platforms on the early earth, the earth's carbon must have been either in the atmosphere or ocean or in the form of shortlived sedimentary deposits on ephemeral sea floor.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Arrhenius, G.: 1981,Adv. Space Res. 1 37.Google Scholar
  2. Chang, S., DesMarais, D., Mack, R., Miller, S. L., and Strathearn, G. E.: 1983, in J. W. Schopf (ed.),Earth's Earliest Biosphere, Princeton University Press, p. 53.Google Scholar
  3. Claoue-Long, J. C., Thirlwall, M. F., and Nesbitt, R. W.: 1984,Nature 307 697.Google Scholar
  4. Craig, H. and Lupton, J. E.: 1981, inThe Sea, Vol. 7, The Oceanic Lithosphere, John Wiley and Sons, p. 391.Google Scholar
  5. DesMarais, D. J.: 1985, in E. T. Sundquist and W. S. Broecker (eds.),The Carbon Cycle and Atmospheric CO 2, American Geophysical Union, Washington, D.C., p. 602.Google Scholar
  6. Donahue, T. M., Hoffman, J. H., Hodges, Jr., R. R., and Watson, A. G.: 1982,Science 216 630.Google Scholar
  7. Edmond, J. M., Measures, C., McDuff, R. E., Chan, L. H., Collier, R., Grant, B., Gordon, L. I., and Corliss, J. B.: 1979,Earth Planet. Sci. Letters 46 1.Google Scholar
  8. Fanale, F. P.: 1971,Chemical Geology 8 79.Google Scholar
  9. Frost, C. D. and O'Nions, R. K.: 1984,Nature 312 53.Google Scholar
  10. Holland, H. D.: 1962, in A. E. J. Engle, H. L. James, and B. F. Leonard (eds.),Petrologic Studies: A Volume in Honor of A. E. Buddington Geological Society of America, New York, p. 447.Google Scholar
  11. Holland, H. D.: 1964, in P. J. Brancazio and A. G. W. Cameron (eds.),The Origin and Evolution of Atmospheres and Oceans John Wiley and Sons, New York, p. 86.Google Scholar
  12. Holland, H. D.: 1984,The Chemical Evolution of the Atmosphere and Oceans Princeton University Press, Princeton, N.J.Google Scholar
  13. Ingersoll, A. P.: 1969,J. Atmos. Sci. 26 1191.Google Scholar
  14. Jenkins, W. J., Edmond, J. M., and Corliss, J. B.: 1978,Nature 272 156.Google Scholar
  15. Kasting, J. F. and Pollack, J. B.: 1984,J. Atmospheric Chemistry 1 403.Google Scholar
  16. Kasting, J. F., Pollack, J. B., and Ackerman, T. P.: 1984,Icarus 57 335.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Kasting, J. F., Zahnle, K. J., and Walker, J. C. G.: 1983,Precambrian Res. 20 121.Google Scholar
  18. Kerr, R. A.: 1978,Science 199 282.Google Scholar
  19. Knoll, A. H.: 1984, in H. D. Holland and A. F. Trendall (eds.),Patterns of Change in Earth Evolution, Springer-Verlag, Berlin, p. 221.Google Scholar
  20. Kuhn, W. R. and Atreya, S. K.: 1979,Icarus 37 207.Google Scholar
  21. Kuhn, W. R. and Kasting, J. F.: 1983,Nature 301 53.Google Scholar
  22. Lewis, J. S. and Prinn, R. G.: 1984,Planets and their Atmospheres Academic Press, New York.Google Scholar
  23. Lowe, D. R.: 1980,Ann. Rev. Earth Planetary Sci. 8 145.Google Scholar
  24. Lowe, D, R.: 1982,Precambrian Res. 17 1.Google Scholar
  25. Lupton, J. E. and Craig, H.: 1981,Science 214 13.Google Scholar
  26. MacDonald, G. J. F.: 1959,J. Geophys. Res. 64 1967.Google Scholar
  27. MacGregor, B. I. and Bliss, N. W.: 1968,Geol. Soc. South Africa Trans. 71 (Annexure), 159.Google Scholar
  28. Mathez, E. A., Blacic, J. D., Berry, J., Maggiore, C., and Hollander, M.: 1984,Geophys. Res. Letters 11 947.Google Scholar
  29. McCulloch, M. T. and Wasserburg, G. J.: 1978,Science 200 1003.Google Scholar
  30. McLennan, S. M. and Taylor, S. R.: 1982,J. Geol. 90 347.Google Scholar
  31. McLennan, S. M. and Taylor, S. R.: 1983,Nature 306 169.Google Scholar
  32. McLennan, S. M., Taylor, S. R., and Kroner, A.: 1983,Precambrian Res. 22 93.Google Scholar
  33. Owen, T., Cess, R. D., and Ramanathan, V.: 1979,Nature 277 640.Google Scholar
  34. Perry, E. C. and Tan, F. C.: 1972,Geol. Soc. Am. Bull. 83 647.Google Scholar
  35. Pollack, J. B.: 1971,Icarus 14 295.Google Scholar
  36. Richardson, S. H., Gurney, J. J., Erlank, A. J., and Harriss, J. W.: 1984,Nature 310 198.Google Scholar
  37. Ringwood, A. E.: 1979,Origin of the Earth and Moon Springer-Verlag, New York.Google Scholar
  38. Rogers, N. and Hawkesworth, C.: 1984,Nature 310 187.Google Scholar
  39. Ronov, A. B. and Yaroshevskiy, A. A.: 1967,Geochemistry 11 1041–1066. (Translated fromGeokhimiya 11, 1285, 1967.)Google Scholar
  40. Ronov, A. B. and Yaroshevsky, A. A.: 1969, in P. J. Hart (ed.),The Earth's Crust and Upper Mantle, Am. Geophys. Union Monograph 13, Washington, p. 37.Google Scholar
  41. Rubey, W. W.: 1951,Bull. Geol. Soc. Am. 62 11.Google Scholar
  42. Sclater, J. G., Parsons, B., and Jaupart, C.: 1981,J. Geophys. Res. 86 11535.Google Scholar
  43. Sleep, N. H. and Wolery, T. J.: 1978,J. Geophys. Res. 83 5913.Google Scholar
  44. Sprague, D. S. and Pollack, H. N.: 1980,Nature 285 393.Google Scholar
  45. Stevenson, D. J.: 1983, in J. W. Schopf (ed.),Earth's Earliest Biosphere, Princeton University Press, p. 32.Google Scholar
  46. Trendall, A. F.: 1984, in H. D. Holland and A. F. Trendall (eds.),Patterns of Change in Earth Evolution Springer-Verlag, Berlin, p. 243.Google Scholar
  47. Veizer, J.: 1976, in B. F. Windley (ed.),The Early History of the Earth, John Wiley and Sons, London, p. 569.Google Scholar
  48. Veizer, J.: 1983, in J. W. Schopf (ed.),Earth's Earliest Biosphere, Princeton University Press, p. 240.Google Scholar
  49. Veizer, J. and Jansen, S. L.: 1979,J. Geology 87 341.Google Scholar
  50. Veizer, J., Compston, W., Hoefs, J., and Nielsen, H.: 1982,Naturwissenschaften 69 173.Google Scholar
  51. Walker, J. C. G.: 1975,J. Atmos. Sci. 32 1248.Google Scholar
  52. Walker, J. C. G.: 1977a, in C. Ponnamperuma (ed.),Chemical Evolution of the Early Precambrian Academic Press, New York, p. 1.Google Scholar
  53. Walker, J. C. G.: 1977b,Evolution of the Atmosphere Macmillan Publishing Co., New York.Google Scholar
  54. Walker, J. C. G.: 1978, in C. Ponnamperuma (ed.),Comparative Planetology Academic Press, New York, p. 141.Google Scholar
  55. Walker, J. C. G.: 1982a,Paleogeography, Paleoclimatology, Paleoecology 40 1.Google Scholar
  56. Walker, J. C. G.: 1982b,Precambrian Res. 17 147.Google Scholar
  57. Walker, J. C. G.: 1983a,Nature 302 518.Google Scholar
  58. Walker, J. C. G.: 1983b,Nature 303 730.Google Scholar
  59. Walker, J. C. G. and Brimblecombe, P.: 1985,Precambrian Res. 28 205.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  60. Walker, J. C. G., Hays, P. B., and Kasting, J. F.: 1981,J. Geophys. Res. 86 9776.Google Scholar
  61. Wetherill, G. W.: 1980,Ann. Rev. Astron. Astrophys. 18 77.Google Scholar
  62. Wolery, T. J. and Sleep, N. H.: 1976,J. Geol. 84 249.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • James C. G. Walker
    • 1
  1. 1.Space Physics Research Laboratory, Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic ScienceThe University of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

Personalised recommendations