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Mid-ocean ridge eruptions as a climate valve

Tolstoy, Maya

Seafloor eruption rates and mantle melting fueling eruptions may be influenced by sea level and crustal loading cycles at scales from fortnightly to 100 kyr. Recent mid-ocean ridge eruptions occur primarily during neap tides and the first 6 months of the year, suggesting sensitivity to minor changes in tidal forcing and orbital eccentricity. An ~100 kyr periodicity in fast-spreading seafloor bathymetry and relatively low present-day eruption rates at a time of high sea level and decreasing orbital eccentricity suggest a longer-term sensitivity to sea level and orbital variations associated with Milankovitch cycles. Seafloor spreading is considered a small but steady contributor of CO2 to climate cycles on the 100 kyr time scale; however, this assumes a consistent short-term eruption rate. Pulsing of seafloor volcanic activity may feed back into climate cycles, possibly contributing to glacial/interglacial cycles, the abrupt end of ice ages, and dominance of the 100 kyr cycle.

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Also Published In

Title
Geophysical Research Letters
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1002/2014GL063015

More About This Work

Academic Units
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Earth and Environmental Sciences
Published Here
October 1, 2015
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