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Materials and pathways of the organic carbon cycle through time

Galvez, Matthieu E. and Fischer, Woodward W. and Jaccard, Samuel L. and Eglinton, Timothy I. (2020) Materials and pathways of the organic carbon cycle through time. Nature Geoscience, 13 (8). pp. 535-546. ISSN 1752-0894.

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The cycle of organic carbon through the atmosphere, oceans, continents and mantle reservoirs is a hallmark of Earth. Over geological time, chemical exchanges between those reservoirs have produced a diversity of reduced carbon materials that differ in their molecular structures and reactivity. This reactive complexity challenges the canonical dichotomy between the surface and deep, short-term and long-term organic carbon cycle. Old and refractory carbon materials are not confined to the lithosphere but are ubiquitous in the surface environment, and the lithosphere hosts various forms of reduced carbon that can be very reactive. The biological and geological pathways that drive the organic carbon cycle have changed through time; from a synthesis of these changes, it emerges that although a biosphere is required to produce organic carbon, mortality is required to ensure its export to the lithosphere, and graphitization is essential for its long-term stabilization in the solid Earth. Among the by-products of the organic carbon cycle are the accumulation of a massive lithospheric reservoir of organic carbon, the accumulation of dioxygen in the atmosphere and the rise of a terrestrial biosphere. Besides driving surface weathering reactions, free dioxygen has allowed the evolution of new metabolic pathways to produce and respire organic carbon. From the evolution of photosynthesis until the expansion of biomineralization in the Phanerozoic, inorganic controls on the organic carbon cycle have diversified, tightening the connection between the biosphere and geosphere.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription ReadCube access
Fischer, Woodward W.0000-0002-8836-3054
Jaccard, Samuel L.0000-0002-5793-0896
Eglinton, Timothy I.0000-0001-5060-2155
Additional Information:© 2020 Springer Nature Limited. Received 06 July 2018. Accepted 02 March 2020. Published 27 July 2020. We thank M. Santosh for providing the phlogopitite sample depicted in Fig. 3b and L. Marki for the suspended sediment samples from which we obtained the spectra in Fig. 2a. We thank M. Plotze for access to his TGA-MS. We thank P. Sossi and O. Bachmann for feedback on an earlier version of the manuscript. M.E.G. thanks G. Cody, J. Hayes, J. Husson, J. Hemingway, J. Connolly, D. Rumble and O. Beyssac for helpful discussions. This project was supported through a Branco Weiss Society in Science fellowship to M.E.G. S.L.J. acknowledges support from the Swiss National Science Foundation (grants PP00P2_144811 and PP00P2_172915). Author Contributions. M.E.G. conceived the study and led the preparation of the manuscript with writing input from all co-authors. The authors declare no competing interests. Peer review information Primary Handling Editor: Rebecca Neely.
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Branco Weiss SocietyUNSPECIFIED
Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF)PP00P2_144811
Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF)PP00P2_172915
Issue or Number:8
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20200813-094025991
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Official Citation:Galvez, M.E., Fischer, W.W., Jaccard, S.L. et al. Materials and pathways of the organic carbon cycle through time. Nat. Geosci. 13, 535–546 (2020).
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:104952
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:13 Aug 2020 17:06
Last Modified:13 Aug 2020 17:06

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