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Temperature control on CO2 emissions from the weathering of sedimentary rocks

Soulet, Guillaume; Hilton, Robert G.; Garnett, Mark H.; Roylands, Tobias; Klotz, Sébastien; Croissant, Thomas; Dellinger, Mathieu; Le Bouteiller, Caroline

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Guillaume Soulet

Robert G. Hilton

Mark H. Garnett

Tobias Roylands

Sébastien Klotz

Thomas Croissant

Mathieu Dellinger

Caroline Le Bouteiller


Sedimentary rocks can release carbon dioxide (CO2) during the weathering of rock organic carbon and sulfide minerals. This sedimentary carbon could act as a feedback on Earth’s climate over millennial to geological timescales, yet the environmental controls on the CO2 release from rocks are poorly constrained. Here, we directly measure CO2 flux from weathering of sedimentary rocks over 2.5 years at the Draix-Bléone Critical Zone Observatory, France. Total CO2 fluxes approached values reported for soil respiration, with radiocarbon analysis confirming the CO2 source from rock organic carbon and carbonate. The measured CO2 fluxes varied seasonally, with summer fluxes five times larger than winter fluxes, and were positively correlated with temperature. The CO2 release from rock organic carbon oxidation increased by a factor of 2.2 when temperature increased by 10 °C. This temperature sensitivity is similar to that of degradation of recent-plant-derived organic matter in soils. Our flux measurements identify sedimentary-rock weathering as a positive feedback to warming, which may have operated throughout Earth’s history to force the surface carbon cycle.


Soulet, G., Hilton, R. G., Garnett, M. H., Roylands, T., Klotz, S., Croissant, T., …Le Bouteiller, C. (2021). Temperature control on CO2 emissions from the weathering of sedimentary rocks. Nature Geoscience, 14(9), 665-671.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 22, 2021
Online Publication Date Aug 30, 2021
Publication Date 2021-09
Deposit Date Jan 20, 2022
Publicly Available Date Mar 2, 2022
Journal Nature Geoscience
Print ISSN 1752-0894
Electronic ISSN 1752-0908
Publisher Nature Research
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 14
Issue 9
Pages 665-671


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