The Rock That Ate CO2

November 26, 2009 • Daily Email Recap

In case you missed this here’s an article from ONEARTH Magazine of NRDC.

When Peter Kelemen started his fieldwork in the Omani desert several years ago, he wasn’t looking for a solution to global warming. His research, which concerned the geology of the earth’s mantle-the 1,800-mile-thick layer beneath the crust-was something only his rock-obsessed colleagues could appreciate.

To study ancient volcanism, Kelemen frequently collected a common mantle rock called peridotite, large tracts of which can be found in Oman, forced to the surface over many ages by tectonic collisions. When peridotite is exposed to the air, it reacts with carbon dioxide, and its outer layers are transformed into carbonate rock. For Kelemen, a geologist at Columbia University, this seemed to be bad news. “When the rock is all weathered and turned into carbonate, that obscures the high-temperature history,” he says. “So my main response over the years when I would see these carbonate deposits was to run the other way.”

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