Vast Lake of Molten Carbonate Discovered Under the Continental USA

volcano-plume

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Scientists have just discovered a 1.8 million square kilometre lake semi-molten carbonate (CO2) compounds under our feet – but still think the contribution of volcanoes to the annual CO2 emission budget is insignificant compared to human emissions.

Scientists uncover huge reservoir of melting carbon under Western United States

February 13, 2017

New research published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters describes how scientists have used the world’s largest array of seismic sensors to map a deep-Earth area of melting carbon covering 1.8 million square kilometres. Situated under the Western US, 350km beneath the Earth’s surface, the discovered melting region challenges accepted understanding of how much carbon the Earth contains – much more than previously understood.

“It would be impossible for us to drill far enough down to physically ‘see’ the Earth’s mantle, so using this massive group of sensors we have to paint a picture of it using mathematical equations to interpret what is beneath us,” said Dr Sash Hier-Majumder of Royal Holloway.

He continued, “Under the western US is a huge underground partially-molten reservoir of liquid carbonate. It is a result of one of the tectonic plates of the Pacific Ocean forced underneath the western USA, undergoing partial melting thanks to gasses like CO2 and H2O contained in the minerals dissolved in it.”

As a result of this study, scientists now understand the amount of CO2 in the Earth’s upper mantle may be up to 100 trillion metric tons. In comparison, the US Environmental Protection Agency estimates the global carbon emission in 2011 was nearly 10 billion metric tons – a tiny amount in comparison. The deep carbon reservoir discovered by Dr. Hier-Majumder will eventually make its way to the surface through volcanic eruptions, and contribute to climate change albeit very slowly.

Read more: https://phys.org/news/2017-02-scientists-uncover-huge-reservoir-carbon.html

The abstract of the study;

Pervasive upper mantle melting beneath the western US

We report from converted seismic waves, a pervasive seismically anomalous layer above the transition zone beneath the western US. The layer, characterized by an average shear wave speed reduction of 1.6%, spans over an area of ∼1.8×106 km2 with thicknesses varying between 25 and 70 km. The location of the layer correlates with the present location of a segment of the Farallon plate. This spatial correlation and the sharp seismic signal atop of the layer indicate that the layer is caused by compositional heterogeneity. Analysis of the seismic signature reveals that the compositional heterogeneity can be ascribed to a small volume of partial melt (0.5 ± 0.2 vol% on average). This article presents the first high resolution map of the melt present within the layer. Despite spatial variations in temperature, the calculated melt volume fraction correlates strongly with the amplitude of P–S conversion throughout the region. Comparing the values of temperature calculated from the seismic signal with available petrological constraints, we infer that melting in the layer is caused by release of volatiles from the subducted Farallon slab. This partially molten zone beneath the western US can sequester at least 1.2×1017 kg of volatiles, and can act as a large regional reservoir of volatile species such as H or C.

Read more: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0012821X16307543

What do scientists have to say about volcanic degassing? Most scientists don’t seem to think geological emissions are large, compared to anthropogenic emissions, but they tend to express a lot of uncertainty about estimates of geological emissions.

For example, Mörner and Etiope (2002);

Carbon degassing from the lithosphere

Nils-Axel Mörner, Giuseppe Etiopeb,

So far, the role of present-day Earth degassing in global C budget and climate effects has been focused to volcanic emissions. The non-volcanic escape of CO2–CH4 from the upper mantle, from carbonate bearing rocks in the crust, from hydrocarbon accumulations and from surface deposits and processes is here discussed in detail. An inventory of recent available data is presented. For the first time, a so large quantity of data is considered altogether showing clearly that the geological flux of carbon was previously significantly underestimated. Several lines of evidence show that non-volcanic C fluxes in «colder» environments are much greater than generally assumed. Local and regional data suggest that metamorphic decarbonation, hydrocarbon leakage and mud volcanoes could be significant CO2–CH4 sources at global scale. Moreover, extensive surface gas-geochemical observations, including soil–atmosphere flux investigations, open the possibility that ecosystems controlled by biogenic activity (soil, permafrost, seawater) can host important components of endogenous C gas (geogas), even in the absence of surface gas manifestations. This would imply the existence of a geological diffuse, background emission over large areas of our planet. New theories concerning the occurrence of pervasive geogas and lithospheric processes of C-gas production («lithospheric loss in rigidity») can be taken as novel reference and rationale for re-evaluating geological sources of CO2 and CH4, and an important endeavour and work prospect for the years to come.

Our survey shows that it is still very hard to arrive at a meaningful estimate of the lithospheric non-volcanic degassing into the atmosphere. Orders of 102–103 Mt CO2/year can be provisionally considered. Assuming as lower limit for a global subaerial volcanic degassing 300 Mt/year, the lithosphere may emit directly into the atmosphere at least 600 Mt CO2/year (about 10% of the C source due to deforestation and land-use exchange), an estimate we still consider conservative. It is likely that temporal variations of lithosphere degassing, at Quaternary and secular scale, may influence the atmospheric C budget. The present-day lithosphere degassing would seem higher than the value considered to balance at Ma time-scale the CO2 uptake due to silicate weathering.

Read more: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S092181810200070X

There is a huge disparity between the amount of CO2 which is believed to be trapped a few hundred miles under our feet (1.2×1017 kg), vs the amount of CO2 scientists believe is emitted by volcanoes (300-600×109 kg / year).

Any free CO2 under the kind of pressure found in the Earth’s crust is likely to form a supercritical fluid – an strange, highly mobile form of CO2 which has characteristics of both a liquid and a gas.

I’m not saying Mörner and Etiope (2002) estimate is wrong, but it could be. Geologist Ian Plimer believes volcanic CO2 emissions are grossly underestimated, because vast numbers of submarine volcanoes are overlooked by studies which estimate emissions.

Volcanoes and CO2

Plimer has said that volcanic eruptions release more carbon dioxide (CO2) than human activity; in particular that submarine volcanoes emit large amounts of CO2 and that the influence of the gases from these volcanoes on the Earth’s climate is under-represented in climate models.[35][36][37] The United States Geological Survey has calculated that human emissions of CO2 are about 130 times larger than volcanic emissions, including submarine emissions.[38][39][40] The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stated that Plimer’s claim “has no factual basis.”[41] This was confirmed in a 2011 survey published in the Eos journal of the American Geophysical Union, which found that anthropogenic emissions of CO2 are 135 times larger than those from all volcanoes on Earth.[42] A 2015 study from The Earth Institute at Columbia University published in Geophysical Research Letters says activity from undersea volcanoes varies with tide, with greater activity at neap tide, and with more activity in ice ages with their lower sea levels. Dr. Maya Tolstoy, who conducted the study, says this might explain abrupt ends to ice ages.[43]

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ian_Plimer#Volcanoes_and_CO2

I accept that humans contribute significantly to global atmospheric CO2 levels. But given the vast disparity between the estimated reservoir and estimated emissions, it is not difficult to see how the volcanic emission rate could fluctuate significantly over time, even in the absence of major eruptions, or how the “conservative” estimate of annual global geological CO2 emissions might be revised substantially upwards in the future.

Update (EW): h/t ATheoK Fixed a copy / paste error – 1.08×106 square kilometres, not 1.08×106 square kilometres

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168 thoughts on “Vast Lake of Molten Carbonate Discovered Under the Continental USA

    • “Informative post.. ”
      and much more eloquent than my rambling post here
      https://wattsupwiththat.com/2017/02/14/wild-claim-climate-change-impacts-on-endangered-wildlife-massively-under-reported/#comment-2426255


      Soo I looked at a map of subduction zones

      Then I looked at the OCO-2 satellite images. Here is one

      Lots of CO2 along all the subduction zones, even the one just east of Italy.

      So I was wondering if earthquakes could seriously affect the amount of CO2 released and found
      https://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/11/16/another-known-unknown-volcanic-outgassing-of-co2/ :)
      and
      http://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/3204/20130729/earthquakes-release-massive-amounts-methane.htm

      Pondering if what might cause earthquakes and the Earth’s orbit I found this
      http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/05/0523_050523_moonquake_2.html
      Which isn’t conclusive.

      Anyway, seems to me that the idea that the CO2 content of the atmosphere was stable until man came along and started burning fossil fuels is tenuous to say the least.

      • Eric,

        I don’t see any correlation between subduction zones and CO2 or, for that matter, between mid-ocean ridges and CO2.

      • Not only is it tenuous, but its simply not true. The IPCC ignores 80,000+ direct chemical bottle CO2 measurements over the last 200 years and hangs onto to the false assumption that CO2 was steadily low until the 1950s. [Ernst Beck, 180 YEARS OF ATMOSPHERIC CO2 GAS ANALYSIS BY CHEMICAL METHODS]

        In fact, the data show that CO2 was much higher than now during two periods of the 1800s and in the 1940s, reaching 550+ ppm CO2 in the later period. Just another piece of false “science” propaganda cobbled up by the warmists and the IPCC to support their agenda.

      • EricHa, please look at the CO2 scale: +/- 2% of full scale, where seasonal exchanges of +/- 20% are at work… Seems to me that the effect of absorption / release of CO2 by vegetation and oceans is by far dominant and the release from volcanic fields is peanuts compared to nature or even the human contribution… That is based on extensive measurements around mount Etna, Sicily, Italy, during and years after outbursts;

      • Charles Higley,

        I had years of discussion with the late Ernst Beck about the historical measurements. The problem is not the accuracy (in general around 3% or +/- 10 ppmv), but where was measured: the middle of Paris, under inbetween en over growing crops, in forests,… These measurements can go from 250 ppmv during photosynthesis in daylight to over 500 ppmv at night under an inversion layer. Nothing to do with “background” CO2 levels in 95% of the atmosphere at that time.
        Only measurements taken on seaships or coastal with wind from the seaside have value and these show figures around the ice core averages for the same period…
        See further:
        http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/beck_data.html

      • Ferdinand,
        CO2 released at spreading centers in the oceans will not be measurable at the surface because it will be dissolved in the cold, high-pressure environment in which it is released. It will then be dispersed by currents, probably only showing up at coastal upwelling sites. With something like 45,000 miles of contiguous spreading centers around the Earth, and numerous seamounts that are poorly characterized, the USGS estimates are probably a lower bound.

        Further, there are undoubtedly sources of CO2 coming from extinct volcanoes on land analogous to what is known to be happening at the Long Valley Caldera in California. That source was found by accident when trees started dying in a Forest Service campground. It is improbable that it is the only source of that type, yet old calderas have not been examined for such emanations.

        Lastly, and probably related to the above, there are soda springs known throughout the world that I would be surprised to find are included in the inventory of volcanogenic CO2 sources.

        I can believe that the the volcanic CO2 is an underestimate to the atmospheric CO2. The question is to what extent it is an underestimate,since the measurements are not a high priority..

      • Clyde,

        The Pinatubo eruption didn’t show an increase of extra CO2 beyond what humans emitted in 1991-1993, just the opposite. Volcanoes didn’t increase their activity in lockstep with human emissions and the 13C/12C ratio of almost all volcanoes is higher than the ratio in the atmosphere, with little variability over the past 800,000 years in the atmosphere and specific over the past 10,000 years, the Holocene: +/- 0.2 per mil. Human emissions did drop the ratio with 1.6 per mil both in the atmosphere (ice cores, wood and direct measurements) as in the ocean surface (coralline sponges). The deep oceans are at about zero per mil, the atmosphere was at -6.4 per mil Any substantial increase of CO2 from the ocean upwelling would increase the ratio in the atmosphere, while there is a firm decrease…

      • If there were a correlation between subduction zones and CO2, shouldn’t the pattern tend to follow the wind patterns?

      • Correlation does not equal causation (in re: your CO2 satellite image and the subduction zone map). Climate is complex. Average CO2 concentrations may or may not have a statistically significant correlation with subduction zones, and even if they do, there may be very different factors at work – that you are not considering.
        Also – WHO states and WHERE is it stated in the scientific literature that atmospheric CO2 content has been stable in the past? That is not the contention of scientists.

    • So let me see; this lake is either molten CO2, which presumably is melted dry ice, or it is melted carbon, such as brake pads, and fishing rods (tennis raquets too).

      So is it cold or hot or perhaps both.

      Somehow I just can’t get my head around melted dry ice.

      Wouldn’t “carbonate” require three of more Oxygens, rather than two ??

      Some pretty loose science verbage if you ask me. NO don’t ask me.

      g

      • Yes but they didn’t say anything about calcium carbonate; just plain carbonate carbonate.

        I think it has something to do with the Carbonaro Effect.

        g

      • Any carbonate, being negatively charged, will always have positive counter ions – Na+, K+, Ca++, etc. Not sure how they know it is carbonate without reading the paper, but it is possible (likely?) they can’t tell the predominate counter ions from 350 km above the surface. And carbonate/carbonic acid easily decomposes to form CO2.

      • Gerorge,
        There is a class of rock called a carbonatite that is found abundantly in the Canadian Shield and recent flows have been observed in Africa. Strangely, they don’t completely decompose from the heat as happens when limestone is placed in a kiln to make cement. However, it is evidence that melted carbonates exist at depth.

    • Well so what.?

      Much more important is the discovery that New Zealand is now the eighth continent; called “Zealandia”.

      Too early to tell if it is bigger than Asia or Africa, but I’m ready to buy some land there on Zealandia.

      It’s about time the Shaky Isles got some recognition.

      G

      • Nearly commented on that story on the Guardian but the top rated comment said it all.

        Zealandia fulfills all the definitions of a continent except:
        1) Being bigger than India.
        2) Being above the sea.

        Clearly it was just Kiwis winding up the Aussies. Which is always good for a laugh.

  1. ” … at submarine volcanoes emit large amounts of CO2 and that the influence of the gases from these volcanoes on the Earth’s climate is under-represented in climate models.”

    This presumes CO2 has an appreciable effect. It’s certainly finite, but far from large enough to be any kind of existential threat. Although, if not for natural sources of CO2, biomass would not have a source of carbon to sequester for its own survival.

    • If submarine CO2 will ever reach the surface at all… Under 4 km seawater – over 400 bar – I suppose most will simply dissolve in the deep oceans and increase the total amount there a little bit, if it isn’t just recycled from subducted carbonates…

    • ‘semi-molten carbonate at 350km depth’
      Stuff of which diamonds are formed.
      Natural diamonds are formed at high temperatures and pressures at depths of 150 to 200 kilometres, but it takes billion or two of years to grow to a decent size.

      • Pretty much the whole western chunk of Africa sits over a “structure”, like a “funnel” or “cone”, that is in effect a diamond factory. I actually forget the correct geological name for this.

      • It also requires transmogifying the oxygen content of the carbonate, until it turns to carbon.

        Oxygenated diamonds are not worth much; even nitrogen is frowned upon in diamonds.

        Yellow(ish) diamonds are nitrogen doped. Brown ones are something else.

        G

      • I think Kimberlite pipes are small local things, that turn into holes called diamond mines. Plenty of them in southern Africa, but not one humungous one. For the relationally dysfunctional Kimberlite has some sort of Connection with Kimberly, which is some place in Southern Africa where the first diamond pipe was located.

        I have more books on diamonds, than anybody needs to have.

        But they don’t say anything about carbonated diamonds.

        G

      • I actually forget the correct geological name for this.
        *************************************************************
        big money pit…

      • Diamonds are a scam;

        World is swimming in diamonds; as common as dirt.

        But De Beers has the market cornered so they keep them to themselves to create the illusion that they are somehow rare, and valuable.

        These days the diamond jewelry trade, have gone overboard on Pave using melee that is worth about 50 cents a carat.

        And since the weight goes with the cube of the size, even a 10 pointer looks huge in Pave arrays.

        And any jeweler will always give you 100% of your money back on any diamond you bought from him(er) put towards the purchase of a larger probably crummier stone.

        Yeah stone ! that is what they are.

        G

      • “george e. smith February 17, 2017 at 1:34 pm”

        I made the exact same point in another thread some weeks ago, and got shot down. I am glad to see someone else who is informed about the fact diamonds are NOT rare!

    • Very good point. This work is from the “Very Large Array” and the level of melting agrees with Bowie and Fuca:

      Subduction off the Americas is currently the “plunging” rather than the “flat slab” sort.

  2. In principal, these are the sort of questions that the Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO II) should have been able to shed light on. Given the large silence, it now seems clear that its capabilities were probably over-sold.
    Pity.

    • Probably not. We are dealing with seismic tomography, the signals from which cannot pass through a vacuum.

      • I think the idea is that the satellite will observe natural CO2 sources, from volcanoes etc., which exceed man made CO2. The article refers to a possible natural source of CO2. The CO2 satellite can’t see deep into the planet. It will, however, see CO2 that emerges at the surface.

        The idea that anthropogenic CO2 is responsible for the increase in atmospheric CO2 requires that the alarmists claim unreal residence times and unreal accuracy in their understanding of the CO2 budget.

        Although our output of 29 gigatons of CO2 is tiny compared to the 750 gigatons moving through the carbon cycle each year, it adds up because the land and ocean cannot absorb all of the extra CO2. link

        The article quoted above gives numbers to three significant digits. They are thus claiming an accuracy of much better than 1%. Sorry folks, that’s just not credible.

      • commiebob, seasonal CO2 changes are huge: +/- 150 GtC/year, but these are largely two-way: what goes i, goes out, even slighly more out than in. Human contribution of about 9 GtC/year is one-way in. Seasonal changes are mainly temperature related, the removal of any extra CO2, no matter if coming from volcanoes or humans, needs extra pressure in the atmosphere to be removed by oceans or vegetation. That needs more time…

    • Not sure about that (satellite capabilities oversold ). I seem to remember some early data from it in the form of Geo maps that showed concentrations of CO2 over oceans, vs the expected populated areas. I didn’t think to try correlating that withknown undersea ridges/vents.

    • The OCO2 satellite images paint a very clear picture of what is happening. The problem is lack of human interpretation. i.e. they have been educated that A is happening, when in fact B is happening.

    • I think the OCO actually observes CO2 which is now called carbonate, because it has more sillabels, so sounds sexier. But I don’t think OCO can see carbon; except when it lands on the snow as soot.

      G

  3. Love the equivalence between carbon, carbonates and CO2. Presumably carbohydrates are in that same class of evil carbon containing substance.

    Just wait until they discover that ethanol, diamonds and the human body contain carbon!

    • I don’t eat organic foods, because they contain carbon; and they cost more than real foods, for no apparent benefit.

      At the local Cupertino yuppie green 365 Organoenhanced foodage supplier, you can pay twice as much for carbon laden foods, and then if you go over to the other corner, you can buy every chemical poison from A to Z and add you own to flavor.

      And they have at least 57 varieties of Omega threes and sixes that you can buy, which helps keep down the bait fish population of the oceans, so that the tuna don’t get too darn big and expensive.

      It’s amazing what havoc is wreaked on the planet in the name of being green.

      G

      • Penn and Teller did a skit about organic and non-organic foods, bananas I think it was. Non-organic bananas were preferred by almost all test candidates. I just buy local and in season.

    • Mark Luhman February 16, 2017 at 7:43 pm
      If you mix carbonates and water under pressure and heat, would you not end up with hydrocarbons?

      Yes–and the energy released would be great enough to power the emergence of life. In fact, that is exactly how I believe Life first evolved.

      • “Yes–and the energy released would be great enough to power the emergence of life. In fact, that is exactly how I believe Life first evolved.”

        The prevalent view today is life started at Black Smokers along spreading ridges.

      • Esther, I think you have your enthalpy calculations backward. Energy would be consumed to process water and carbonate into hydrocarbons.

    • “If you mix carbonates and water under pressure and heat, would you not end up with hydrocarbons?”

      Makes sense Mark. Would be interesting to know how carbohydrates are formed on Titan – enough to fill lakes. According to NASA “the lakes are generally not associated with rivers, and are thought to fill up by rainfall and liquids feeding them from underground.” https://www.nasa.gov/feature/the-mysterious-lakes-on-saturns-moon-titan

      • Jaakko: “Saturn’s moon Titan is home to seas and lakes filled with liquid hydrocarbons” These are not carbohydrates.

      • Absolutely right Mike. Hydrocarbons I meant to write. Sorry, not writing in the languages I use the most lately.

    • No. Carbonates are CO₃⁻⁻ ions paired with bivalent Metal ions like Calcium, Iron & Magnesium. They are in an oxidized state already. Separating the carbon from the oxygen is not going to happen easily.

    • Yes. That is exactly what happens. The huge pool of oil that burst through to the surface on the Athabasca River shows that ‘it is down there’ and is looking for a way to the surface.

    • Likely earthquakes – through multiple events, you achieve the power of the stack – noise is random & will cancel itself out & signal will stack in, enhancing itself. With each successive EQ event, you increase S/N ratio & can image better & deeper.

      • The term is “seismic tomography”. The velocity of seismic waves is proportional to the density of the material through which they pass. One can calculate the density of volumes the waves pass through by comparing them with velocities through known substances like Granite or Ocean Crust. Anomalies are surmised to be the result of odd materials in the path of the waves, and this is probably how they calculated a substance of carbonatite’s density. I remain sceptical.

    • An excellent question; and what are the “available petrological constraints”? This is asked in admitted ignorance of “oil patch” terminology. Seeking elucidation, not a beating.

  4. It’s probably not supercritical CO2, but rather melted calcium carbonate (CaCO3) under very high PT; something like 100,000 atm (~10GPa), and ~1800 C.

    If it ever depressurized at that temperature, such as through a sudden fissure to the surface, the carbonate would explosively decompose releasing all the CO2 immediately, erupting in a prompt and gigantic plume entraining all that molten calcium oxide.

    Now that would be an “unprecedented” increase in atmospheric CO2. Climate scientists would finally have their rhetoric justified, just as life-as-we-know-it disappeared. No time for triumph there! :-)

    • Maybe President Trump’s influence will spread to the rest of the world.

      I’m already seeing articles very critical of the “global warming” meme appear in our local newspaper–something unheard of during the Obama administration.

    • AndyG55, don’t forget our brain-dead “leader” is saving the planet. On, *ONE* of his houses, he has installed a massive solar/battery array, so no muck will stick to good ‘ol Teflon shoulders. Taxpayers probably paid for that. But lets not be too critical of Turncoat, after all he *IS* saving the planet with an “ETS” installed 1/07/16, thanks buddy. Wonder why power prices are now rising, energy companies passing on that “proice ohn cahbon” maybe? And he is planning to strip ~AU$200+ MP’s “Gold Plate” taxpayer funded “perks” for life. Must be real hard to live in Aus on $200k+…I mean, how can they afford to live?

      • Yesterday, in a speech in Atlanta, Al Gore proclaimed that CO2 is already making parts of the planet uninhabitable.

      • Yesterday, in a speech in Atlanta, Al Gore proclaimed that CO2 is already making parts of the planet uninhabitable.

        Like Florida? Can I switch?

  5. Obviously can’t be true . . . must be fake news/fake science. I was assured as far back as, ummmmn, circa 2000 that the science on CO2 sources and sinks around the Earth was SETTLED.
    /sarc

  6. “The layer, characterized by an average shear wave speed reduction of 1.6%, spans over an area of ∼1.8×106 km2

    When I first read those numbers, “1.8×106 km2;”, my thoughts were about who is jerking our legs. The melt chamber for Yellowstone alone is far larger.

    When I checked the numbers in the article, linked above, the numbers are supposed to be

    “1.8×10⁶ km²”

    An order of difference by many magnitudes.

  7. No geologists were inconvenienced by this research! Most of this carbonate would end up as carbonatite intrusions and carbonatite volcanic flows. Malawi even exploits a carbonatite as limestone for cement making. Some would be calcined during volcanism
    , but over time, CO2 would react with the free lime and be recaptured into carbonate.

    Carbonatite intrusions are not rare and they are prolific sources of rare earth carbonate ore minerals, oxides of niobium and titanium, calcium phosphate for making fertilizers, and, of course thorium minerals. They are commonly hosts of iron ore as carbonates and oxides and locally can contain significant copper and other metals. Mongolia is an example of this with enormous resources of rare earth-copper ores in such a deposit .

    Their paper could have been much much more interesting with collaboration with… mmm… er… earth scientists? At least they wouldn’t have had such a golly gee whizz aspect. But that is the post normal sciency way.

    • “At least they wouldn’t have had such a golly gee whizz aspect. But that is the post normal sciency way.”

      ScienceDirect? A press release almost for sure. phys.org/news?. I’m not familiar with phys.org, but I’m guessing that news probably has its roots in the selfsame press release(s). AFAICS, press releases are almost always written by “professional communicators” who usually have not the slightest idea what they are talking about. They tend to be riddled with misunderstandings and outright errors.

      The abstract at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0012821X16307543 looks to me much more like the work of scientists. I’m not a good enough geologist to see any problems with it.

      My only reservation is a question about how one could assemble and subduct the mass of limestone/dolomite that would be required to create a detectable 1,800,000 square km, presumably quite thick, carbonate mass. Thats about a fifth the area of the US, Canada, or China. One BIG reef, that.

    • I find myself fascinated by the geology of this, more than anything else. I suppose this came about from cretaceous and earlier rock strata being forced down into the mantle by plate subduction, but I’d love to see some more detailed information on this aspect of it.

      • “but I’d love to see some more detailed information on this aspect of it.”

        My feeling also. It sounds like there was a huge reef complex on the Farllon Plate(?) that was subducted under the North American plate. But a huge reef — 1.8million square km of reef — would seem to suggest a large shallow sea. Probably it’d have been underlain by low density continental rock. And the pretty pictures in the geology books suggest that instead of being subducted in a plate collision, the continental material and the reef complex would be scraped off and would along with the existing material on the North American plate form a Himalaya/European Alps sort of pile of sedimentary rock.

  8. Eric summarized: “I accept that humans contribute significantly to global atmospheric CO2 levels. But given the vast disparity between the estimated reservoir and estimated emissions, it is not difficult to see how the volcanic emission rate could fluctuate significantly over time, even in the absence of major eruptions, or how the “conservative” estimate of annual global geological CO2 emissions might be revised substantially upwards in the future.”

    It is trivial to demonstrate that any fluctuations in the volcanic emission of CO2 have almost certainly been trivial compared with the fluctuation/change in man’s emission of carbon dioxide in the past century. For more than last half-century, man has emitted enough CO2 to raise CO2 levels in the atmosphere by 1 to 2 ppm/yr (net accumulation). Suppose the rate of volcanic emission of CO2 also rose and fell by enough to raise CO2 by 1 ppm/yr for a half-century. Then ice cores would contain periods a half-century long where CO2 gradually rose from 280 to 330 ppm and later returned to 280 ppm. However, the greatest change we see in CO2 in ice cores over the last 10 millennia is about 10 ppm. So we know that natural fluctuations in uptake or emission of CO2 (including volcanos) have been negligible over the last 100 centuries compare to the change man has produced during the 20th-century. And we know ice cores can record changes in CO2, because CO2 during the last ice age was 100 ppm lower than today.

    It wouldn’t make any difference if new data raised or lowered the flux of CO2 into or from the atmosphere by some mechanism by a factor of 10X. Early in the Holocene, uptake (which depends on how much CO2 is in the atmosphere) and emission (which does not) became equal when CO2 was 280 ppm. For the next 100 century – until the Industrial Revolution – emission and uptake remained in equilibrium.

    Eric, it is difficult to see things when your prejudices about AGW make you close your eyes to evidence that exists. Speculation that something could happen is purely speculation. Let’s not turn WUWT into a “fake news” site. Yes, John Podestra’s emails made reference to the Comet Ping Pong pizza shop in Washington DC. However, that isn’t evidence that a child sex ring was operating there. Yes, there is evidence that a vast pool of molten carbonate exists deep in the mantle. However, there is no evidence it has anything to do with climate change and good evidence it does not. Speculation by alarmist and skeptic is just speculation, not science.

    • Dr. Maya Tolstoy in the last quote proposed increased marine volcanism triggered by reduced sea level as a possible mechanism for abrupt ending of ice ages, so it is mainstream science that volcanic CO2 emissions can vary. IMO it’s not much of a stretch to suggest it can vary for other reasons, such as random changes to availability of decomposable carbonates.

      • Eric, If this were true, then it would seem to support my theory
        that the ice core CO2 readings are useless.

        A fluctuation of a few parts per million could not possibly
        end “ice ages”, even if one imparts great power to CO2
        as a greenhouse gas.

      • Eric, Maya Tolstoy and others presume that CO2 has a huge effect on temperature. As we know that CO2 follows temperature in pre-Industrial times with 800 +/- 600 years, the CO2 release from marine volcanism seems rather questionable… The more that undersea CO2 probably never reached the surface under hundreds of bar seawater pressure…

      • Eric: Tolstoy is discussing eruptions from the volcanic ridges in the middle of oceans where the crust is only a few miles thick. That has nothing to do with the possibility that CO2 might be released from a reservoir 350 km below the surface.

        If Tolstoy were correct about eruptions causing the end of ice ages, CO2 would have risen before temperature did. As I’m sure you know, the rise in CO2 lagged the rise in temperature by about a millennium.

        Eric wrote: “Dr. Maya Tolstoy in the last quote proposed increased marine volcanism triggered by reduced sea level as a possible mechanism for abrupt ending of ice ages, so it is mainstream science that volcanic CO2 emissions can vary.”

        Sea level isn’t falling today, so it is absurd to suggest Tolstoy’s speculation provides a reason we should be worried about a natural increase in volcanic CO2 emissions right now.

        Volcanic emissions of CO2 CAN VARY. They are used to explain the Eocene warm period. However, the ice-core record shows that volcanic emissions of CO2 HAVE NOT VARIED to a significant extent in the last 10,000 years!

        Our climate would be changed if a large asteroid hit the planet or if there were a major change in CO2 released by volcanic activity. Bringing up either possibility when discussing climate change – without discussing their likelihood – has nothing to do with science.

        I’m shocked that Professor Tolstoy’s work passed peer review. Both sea floor spreading and CO2 show 100 kyr periodicity, but a correlation coefficient is not calculated nor is the lead/lagged nature of the relationship explored. Figure 3 covers only to the time period when ice ages occurred every 100 kya. Before that they occurred every 40 kya. Does the sea floor spreading show a similar transition? Sea floor spreading is important to the detection of reversals of the north and south pole. Data presumably exists from many locations, but we are presented with evidence from one location? If you want to be a skeptic, scrutinize your writing like a skeptic. Otherwise, your behaving like a politician or ambulance-chasing attorney, not a scientist.

        http://scottishsceptic.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/tolstoy_inpress_grl_2015.pdf

    • I posted this comment, back in a end of January thread in response to “Global estimates” assumptions nonsense so often spouted regarding CO2.

      A) Global estimates are not verified! When alleged researchers find estimates that fit their view, that is all they want.

      B) Desk bound bean counters use what info they:
      • a) know
      • b) gather from short searches

      C) Actual measurements of CO2 volume from any volcanic or magmatic emissions are extremely rare.
      • a) Verified and replicated CO2, SO2 measurements are nonexistent.
      • b) So people, who gallingly refer to themselves as researchers, guess.

      Here is a quick copy of my previous post in WUWT’s excellent thread; ““worse than we thought” – Action is needed to make stagnant CO2 emissions fall”

      “Some curiosities in USGS/NOAA carbon estimates.

      A) Their estimates do not match the actual observed CO2 emissions as captured by the OCO-2 satellite.

      B) Their volcanic CO2 emission estimates are, perhaps idiotic.
      — a) USGS estimates of Kilauea CO2 estimates range from eruption discharges between 8,000 and 30,000 metric tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere each day.
      — b) Kilauea is not explosively violent with it’s rather fluid lava and Kilauea’s location over a hot spot, not a tectonic locations where extensive carbonaceous material is folded deep into the Earth.
      — c) Kilauea’s mild CO2 emissions still rate at 2.92 million metric tonnes to 10.95 million metric tonnes of CO2 per annum.
      — d) Whoever tallied up a CO2 emissions volume for all active and sleeping volcanoes worldwide had trouble with their basic math skill. 100 rather sleepy volcano emissions easily reach a billion metric tonnes per year. A truly eruptive volcano makes billions of metric tonnes of CO2 per year a rather easy target.
      — e) This is without an accurate estimate for tens of thousands of miles (kilometers) of rift emissions worldwide.

      C) Yellowstone is an active volcano, that is not currently truly active. Even as a sleeping giant it is an immense source of CO2.

      Ms. Werner and her colleagues found that Yellowstone’s Mud Volcano area produced about 176,300 tons of carbon dioxide each year.
      Loosely expanding those figures based on the park’s underlying geology, they suggest that each year the entire park may emit about 44 million tons of carbon dioxide, a colorless, odorless and incombustible gas.”

      — a) Considering the size of Yellowstone’s mud volcano and the sheer size of Yellowstone, that is likely an extremely conservative estimate. Yellowstone has several areas venting CO2 that are dangerous to wildlife when winds are mild. Suffocating wildlife with CO2 require very large volumes of CO2.
      — b) There is evidence that CO2 is a key component to erupting geysers. The entire park and surrounding regions are host to thousands of hot springs and geysers. http://www.nytimes.com/1997/12/26/us/yellowstone-park-emits-tons-of-carbon-dioxide-study-finds.html
      — c) Hot springs are common in the Western United States, and most if not all, bubble CO2 constantly.
      — d) There are numerous mud volcano spots in the American West, several that are famous. Just as Yellowstone mud volcano area, these are also sources for CO2.

      D) Estimates for CO2 from past eruptions have been severely minimized.
      — a) Mount St Helens erupted March 18th: Recent estimates for CO2 emissions during the eruption are quite small.

      “On May 18, 1980, the volcano lost an estimated 2.6 billion cubic meters (3.4 billion cubic yards or 0.63 cubic mile) of its cone (about 400 m or 1,300 ft in height)”

      — b) Perhaps USGS believes it was toothpaste that blew 3.4 billion cubic yards of rock along with the volcano’s magma chamber high into the sky.

      E) Expanding these considerations to worldwide volcanic CO2 emissions simply dwarfs the dismally politic USGS/NOAA volcanic CO2 emissions.”

      When the few actual volcanic/tectonic/magmatic CO2 measurements are simply applied to known volcanoes, USGS minimal estimates are busted. This is before considering worldwide hot springs, volcanic muds, world crossing and crisscrossing rifts, vents, exposures, etc.

      In comparison to Earth’s massive diameter, or even Earth’s comparatively thin atmosphere, mankind’s machines and CO2 emitting structures are dwarfed into inconsequential infinitesimally tiny things.

      Mankind contributing to atmospheric CO2, yes. Mankind definitely raising atmospheric CO2 ppm levels; let us know when solid observational proof is verified and replicated.

      • And if Mt. St. Helens was such a great source of CO2, would it not show up noticeably in the record of Mauna Loa and other CO2 monitoring stations such as the ones at Niwot Ridge Colorado, Barrow Alaska, American Samoa and the South Pole?

        BTW, the 2.6 billion cubic meters of volcanic rock blown off of Mt. St. Helens would have a mass around 7 gigatonnes. The amount of magma coming up would have been substantially less, and the magma by mass is mostly molten rock and a minority of it by mass is gases including CO2. Mt. St. Helens emitted only a fraction of a gigatonne of CO2, while anthropogenic emissions of CO2 was about 19 gigatonnes in 1980 and was around 36 gigatonnes/year in recent years.

      • Between May 1980 and the end of 1986, 800 airborne measurements of SO2 were taken, and over a 1000 measurements occurred by the end of 1988. This extensive study showed that SO2 dropped steeply after the May 18, 1980 eruption – thought to be the result of a decreased magma supply to the surface. Increased rates of SO2 measured before several dome extrusions were signs that magma was moving at a more rapid rate toward the crater vent – the heightened SO2 emissions continued until periods of dome extrusion stopped.
        CO2 emissions were also monitored quite well in the first two years of the eruption with nearly 120 measurements between July 1980 and August 1981. The data show a similar sharp decline in the amount of CO2 emitted over that time period with peak emissions over 22 kilotons per day.

        https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/volcanoes/st_helens/st_helens_monitoring_104.html

        The dominant gas in eruptions is water vapor.

      • ATheoK,

        The largest eruption of the past century, the 1991 Pinatubo VEI 5 explosion, injected more debris and CO2 than all volcanic eruptions of the past century together. Despite that, the CO2 measurements of that year and the next year were less than expected for the good reason that both the lower temperature and the enhanced photosynthesis (due to light scathering) did take more CO2 away than the Pinatubo did emit…

      • In reverse order:

        “verdeviewer February 17, 2017 at 10:03 am

        https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/volcanoes/st_helens/st_helens_monitoring_104.html
        The dominant gas in eruptions is water vapor.”

        Likely, CO2/H2O measurements by these characters:

        That does not minimize either CO2 content nor it’s effects throughout an eruption.
        “VOLATILES
        • H2O most abundant volatile in most magmas
        • CO2 next most abundant volatile

        In general, Basalt magmas are DRY, i.e. H2O < 0.5 wt%
        MORB = 0.25% H2O
        Hawaiian Tholeiite = 0.5% H2O
        Alkali Olivine Basalt = 0.9% H2O

        Andesites, Rhyolites, Granites: Higher Water Contents
        • Paricutin Andesite = 2.2% H2O at 1100oC
        • Granites/Rhyolites wide range H2O: 0.5% to 7% H2O by weight.
        • Water lowers viscosity: OH- ions act as Network Modifers, substitute for O2 in
        tetrahedra.
        • Water lowers solidus temperature: Effect greater at higher pressures"

        No measurements were taken of the active Mt. St. Helens' eruption itself, or of many active violent eruptions ever, save for Pliny the elder; there are darn few actual CO2 measurements of less violent eruptions.
        Measurements after the Mt. St. Helens eruption were taken by airplane at altitude, starting the week after the eruption.

        “Donald L. Klipstein February 17, 2017 at 5:56 am
        And if Mt. St. Helens was such a great source of CO2, would it not show up noticeably in the record of Mauna Loa and other CO2 monitoring stations such as the ones at Niwot Ridge Colorado, Barrow Alaska, American Samoa and the South Pole?”

        Straw man distraction. A classic red herring.
        Let us know how much Yellowstone CO2, Niwot Ridge, Colorado measures. I doubt the Antarctic measurement station is unable to separate out local “Ring of Fire” volcanic CO2 emissions happening right on Antarctica.

        BTW, the 2.6 billion cubic meters of volcanic rock blown off of Mt. St. Helens would have a mass around 7 gigatonnes. The amount of magma coming up would have been substantially less, and the magma by mass is mostly molten rock and a minority of it by mass is gases including CO2.”

        Did you actually read what you wrote?

        Less magma would blow 2.6 billion Meters³ (3.4 billion yards³), or as you describe as 7 billion metric tonnes, off of the mountain.
        Debris from the mountain filled areas up to five miles distant, (8km) distant.
        The following eruption column, all that less magma, reached 20-25 km (32 km – 40 km) in altitude.

        Mt. St. Helens emitted only a fraction of a gigatonne of CO2, while anthropogenic emissions of CO2 was about 19 gigatonnes in 1980 and was around 36 gigatonnes/year in recent years. “

        Both are estimates, not direct measurements.
        The first estimate, regarding Mt. St. Helens, is an unqualified guess.

        There are CO2 sample measurements of quiescent volcanos, volcanic mud lakes, geysers, hot springs, hydrothermal vents, smokers, rifts, active faults, etc. that when added up into an all sources comprehensive global estimate. Still an estimate, but an estimate that dwarfs everything but oceanic CO2.

        One of those queer reasons that the OCO-2 satellite data has been thoroughly ignored while NASA/NOAA try to work out a method of filtering out inconvenient natural processes.

        http://volcano.si.axismaps.io/
        Click to view, choose “as a globe” option to get a better idea of volcanic emission points.

      • “Ferdinand Engelbeen February 17, 2017 at 2:32 pm
        ATheoK,

        The largest eruption of the past century, the 1991 Pinatubo VEI 5 explosion, injected more debris and CO2 than all volcanic eruptions of the past century together. Despite that, the CO2 measurements of that year and the next year were less than expected for the good reason that both the lower temperature and the enhanced photosynthesis (due to light scathering) did take more CO2 away than the Pinatubo did emit…

        Another estimate and guess. But you love all estimates NASA/NOAA Ferdinand. Not that emotional acceptance begets legitimacy.

        Let’s start at the basics, since you appear to ignore them.
        The Earth is a ball of metals, alloys, minerals 25,000 miles, (40,200 km) in circumference, 8,000 miles, (12,900 km) in diameter.
        The Earth has an atmosphere that reaches 430 miles (692 km), but the bulk, by mass, is below 11 miles (17 km) at the equator.

        Man loves to think themselves as titans.
        Earth, would consider man as amoebic, such is the relationship.

        Man, as titan, develops spreadsheets with limited inputs that are mostly assumptions based on mans’ amoeba view.
        Voilà! Shout the modelers!
        At least until their boss man says the number looks much too high; double check the calculations.

        Geologically, man’s outputs are recognizable from heights well within Earth’s atmosphere; depending on the output.
        Man’s personal outputs are not recognized above a few skyscraper floors.

        Placing a few single point gas measurement devices here, there, everywhere.
        Then jumping up and down whilst waving arms and claiming, “why can’t we measure that CO2?”, is a very bizarre question.

        Our thoughts include the same question, but include others; e.g “Why are they asking such a ludicrous question?”

        This is my only reply to you Ferdinand.
        Unless, you have actual direct observations, globally to replace that myriad of guesses you claim are as good as real data.
        Arguing with ghost climate models is easier than chasing specious guesses masquerading as “estimates”

      • ATheoK,

        We know with reasonable accuracy how much CO2 humans have emitted each year: that is based on sales (taxes!) and burning efficiency of different fuels. Maybe more underestimated than overestimated, because of the human nature to avoid taxes;;;
        We know with high accuracy how much each year the CO2 levels in the atmosphere increased, not only from Mauna Loa and NOAA, but from some 70 stations worldwide measuring CO2 in the best circumstances, far from sources of contamination, by different organisations in different countries. These show the same levels of CO2 in 95% of the atmosphere, with only small differences caused by the seasons and a NH-SH gradiënt, caused by human emissions, which are 95% in the NH.

        These measurements show that in every year since 1959 human emissions were higher than what is measured as increase in the atmosphere. That simply means that all natural inputs together (ocean warming; volcanoes, rock weathering, vegetation decay,…) are smaller than all natural sinks together. There is zero net contribution from nature (besides a small one from warming oceans) to the recent increase of CO2 in the atmosphere and the ocean surface layer.

        But of course, if you have any indication that volcanoes all together increased their output in lockstep with human emissions – a fourfold since 1959 – I am all ear…

      • “Ferdinand Engelbeen February 18, 2017 at 8:41 am
        ATheoK,

        We know with reasonable accuracy how much CO2 humans have emitted each year: that is based on sales (taxes!) and burning efficiency of different fuels.”

        You do not know with any accuracy. Guesses are guesses, until proven by direct measurement and observation.

        What’s with the “we”? More consensual thinktank that likes modeled/estimated/guessed, made up numbers and amounts.

        Let us know, when research actually knows a real number from direct observations.

        Can’t observe yet?
        Then that should be a priority, not guessing!

        “that is based on sales (taxes!)”
        What a lark!!

        Sales taxes are paid on officially tracked transfer of objects, not every instance of transfer, not when used, or if used. Sales taxes only let you know how much sales tax was actually received, not product used.

        Made up data is good for research; or for spending our tax dollars? No!
        Made up data is good for pretend bean counters looking for their pay checks.

        I included enough information in my earlier posts to illustrate how deficient the volcanic/tectonic CO2 emission estimates are.

        Use ot the “net” word is sophistry in action.
        OCO-2 satellite information clearly illustrates vast CO2 amounts entering the atmosphere from natural sources. Natural processes then remove vast CO2 amounts from the atmosphere.

        “net” is a made up word intended to obfuscate the complete lack of information about the CO2 sources or sinks. “net” allows assumptions, again made up data, instead of actual knowledge.

        “net” is as invalid a term as a global “anomaly” calculated from disproportionate irregularly sited, badly placed, not calibrated, incidentally maintained, never verified or accurately tracked, definitely not globally located, latitude biased temperature measuring devices.

        Meaning, “net” CO2 emissions is another method of saying, “we do not know”, so we guess.

      • ATheoK,

        Of course, if you reject every means of counting by any government, then we can’t have a discussion about facts… As I said, taxes are what we have as real observed facts, and due to human nature to avoid taxes, these quantities are the minimum quantities of what humans emit. Indeed that is what is sold as fossil fuels, and maybe some may have large stocks of fuels, but I don’t think that will be many people that have a large tank of petrol for their car at home… Worst case, that is burned one or a few years later, so what? Anyway most of it ends as CO2 in the atmosphere the same year as sold…
        The Smithsonian overview doesn’t say anything about CO2, but they give estimates for SO2. For the Pinatubo, that is about 20 Mton SO2, haven’t found estimates for CO2, but the result was a smaller increase of CO2 in the atmosphere after the eruption than in earlier or later years…

        See a lot of “best guesses” at: https://www.bgs.ac.uk/downloads/start.cfm?id=432

        Simply said, your volcanoes, volcanic vents, CO2 belching lakes,… are peanuts compared to what humans emit as CO2.

        BTW, “net” as is learned in the elementary school means income minus expenses: in this case what is emitted by humans (yes, calculated) minus what is absorbed by nature: that is what is measured as increase in the atmosphere…

      • “Ferdinand Engelbeen February 19, 2017 at 4:19 pm
        ATheoK,

        Of course, if you reject every means of counting by any government, then we can’t have a discussion about facts…”

        Argument fallacies: Argumentum ad verecundiam, Straw man “red herring”

        Your implication is that guesses can substitute as facts; meaning you do not intend to discuss facts.
        Facts are real.
        Facts are verifiable.
        Facts are replicable.
        Facts are based on reality.

        Guesses? No one, in their right mind, wants somebody else’s guesses.

        “As I said, taxes are what we have as real observed facts, and due to human nature to avoid taxes, these quantities are the minimum quantities of what humans emit. Indeed that is what is sold as fossil fuels, and maybe some may have large stocks of fuels, but I don’t think that will be many people that have a large tank of petrol for their car at home… Worst case, that is burned one or a few years later, so what? Anyway most of it ends as CO2 in the atmosphere the same year as sold…”

        Argument fallacies, “Argumentum ad verecundiam”, “Post hoc ergo propter hoc”, “Non Sequitur”,

        The larger the organization, the larger a tank they can fill.
        Even so, people fill gas cans for their vehicles, boats, chain saws, ATVs, etc.
        Or they may fill their holding tanks for diesel fuel, aka home heating fuel.

        Anyone can fill two five hundred gallon tanks that may take years to finish, except in the very cold states.
        The same goes for people picking up and dropping off their own propane tanks.

        Organizations may purchase bulk materiel when the price looks best, then using that materiel, including fuels, over a very long term.

        Sales taxes are solely information about legally purchasing materiel in the most modern of countries. For the rest of the world, it is a distraction.

        Guesses, no matter what you claim to be basing it on, are guesses, without verifiable facts; not what year guessed as the use year.

        “The Smithsonian overview doesn’t say anything about CO2, but they give estimates for SO2. For the Pinatubo, that is about 20 Mton SO2, haven’t found estimates for CO2, but the result was a smaller increase of CO2 in the atmosphere after the eruption than in earlier or later years…

        So, you ignored the entire volcanic chain activity perception and fixated on SO2?
        I am not surprised. Bases world alarmism on guesses, but gets stuck on facts when they’re used and is unable to spot the forest of volcanic emissions.

        And that is only the big burps coming from volcano activity. The ring of fire activity does not purport to represent the sheer multitude of tectonic gas sources. Again, back to the first post for some of what is known.

        “Simply said, your volcanoes, volcanic vents, CO2 belching lakes,… are peanuts compared to what humans emit as CO2.”

        Condescension and admonishment together, so sweet, so temptingly authoritarian, and so completely wrong.
        Multiple false logic arguments; “Argumentum ad verecundiam”, “Non Sequitur”, “Argumentum ad ignorantiam”

        Earth’s sheer size, even the atmospheric component solely, puts mankind into the poppy seed category when judging man’s effects to Earth; add in the lithosphere moves mankind into spore size comparatively.

        “BTW, “net” as is learned in the elementary school means income minus expenses: in this case what is emitted by humans (yes, calculated) minus what is absorbed by nature: that is what is measured as increase in the atmosphere…”

        Argument fallacies: “argumentum ad nauseam”, “argumentum ad hominem”

        Ferdinand, how sweetly condescending of you.
        Just another ad hominem based on what, Ferdinand?

        I spent years working in Finance.
        Your particular condescension is stupid; of course, it is because you’ve made assumptions, which are wrong.

        The elementary school insult ignores all of the other uses of the word “net”, where “net” is allegedly the final result. Final results are not truly final when so much empty spaces and null fields are used for the result.

        Years in Finance, teaches most finance workers that estimates are based on little knowledge and massive guesswork.
        No real boss or organization, does anything more than preparation work until facts are definitely known.
        Gambling, based on guesses, can result in kudos if the estimates are within the bases ballpark correct; discipline, demotion or just plain fired if not. That is real world.

        Money, people, materials and work hours are far too valuable to waste when only guesswork is the basis.

      • ATheoK,

        As I was travelling, I had not all my files and links with me, here a few of particular interest:

        http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v351/n6325/abs/351387a0.html for measurements around mount Etna, one of the most active volcanoes on earth.
        Based on the CO2/SO2 ratio in the plume and further SO2 measurements, which are easily attributed to only volcanic emissions (*), that gives 13 +/- 3 Tg CO2/year and a similar amount from fumaroles around the mountain.
        26 Tg/year CO2 is about 8 TgC/year or about 0.1% of what humans emit.
        Your reference of what Yellowstone emits is then about 0.2% of what humans emit…
        So you need 500-1000 Yellowstones or Etna’s to have as much CO2 emissions as humans do emit each year… Undersea volcanoes don’t count, as almost all their CO2 is simply abosrbed in the deep oceans.

        Mount Etna is a subduction volcano, which is richer in CO2 than deep magma volcanoes: a factor 10 compared to the Kilauea volcano at Hawaii.

        Newer research at Mount Etna included 13C/12C ratio measurements, which show even local contamination from human/fossil sources while passing small villages. The Mount Etna emissions have a much higher 13C/12C ratio at around -2.5 per mil, compared to current ambient air at -8.1 per mil and human emissions at average -24 per mil. See:
        http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2014GL059722/pdf
        Thus if volcanoes emit lots more CO2 than humans, the 13C/12C ratio in the atmosphere would go up, but all we see is a firm decline in exact ratio to human emissions…

        Sorry if you don’t understand that what is sold one day will be used: it doesn’t matter if that is used the same year or the next or five years later: one day it will end as CO2 in the atmosphere. Even if everybody hoard 50% of one’s average fuel use in the first year, that only delays its use with one year, as the next year one need all the fuel bought as direct fuel. I don’t think that many will buy more and more tanks of gas or petrol each year again… Even if you use a full gas tank only in five years, you buy a new filling after five years and your neighbours do the same, probably in another year, thus that simply levels out over the years. Thus again, that are facts, verifiable facts.

        As you have worked in finances, you should be aware that the financial agents are very eager to have their money from fuel sales and very strict to get under the counter sales discovered, as that is one of the main income streams for any government. Again, fuel sales gives the minimum of human CO2 emissions, by far not the maximum…

        Indeed there are many interpretations for the word “net”, but in this case it is unambiguous: the measured (yes measured, hard, verifiable facts) increase of CO2 in the atmosphere is the result of all human and natural contributions, where the human contribution is one-way in, while the natural contribution is as well in as out. Because human emissions (even underestimated) were always higher than what is measured as increase in the atmosphere, the natural contribution was negative, no matter how much the volcanoes emitted in any year of the past 57 years:

        Where the dip 1992-1993 is the (negative!) CO2 effect of the Pinatubo eruption…

        (*) see http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v313/n6000/abs/313273a0.html
        The SO2 content and the ratio between CO2 and SO2 and other gases is used to monitor the emissions of the different volatile components, as SO2 is easily monitored.

    • Frank,

      Then ice cores would contain periods a half-century long where CO2 gradually rose from 280 to 330 ppm and later returned to 280 ppm. However, the greatest change we see in CO2 in ice cores over the last 10 millennia is about 10 ppm.

      Sorry, that’s not right.
      If ice cores had the resolution to see a 50 year blip then you would be right. But they don’t.
      Assuming that the ice cores are eternally sealed and no smoothing takes place (a generous concession needed to use the ice cores at all) then it still requires time for the ice cores to seal in the first place.
      Also the claim that the resolution is as good as yearly is only made for very recent times. The weight of the ice crushes itself and lowers resolution the further back you go. For example CDIAC says Antarctic ice cores can’t reliably maintain that resolution before 1000 years ago.

      Temporal uncertainty of the EPICA 800,000-year series increases with core depth, but estimates indicate that it is usually less than 5% of the true age and is frequently much less than that.

      If you trust how they modelled that (which I’ve already expressed scepticism about) then… Well even so, the Battle of Hastings is barely yesterday in geological terms.
      You can’t compare ice cores with direct measurements on the side of a volcano in the middle of the Pacific.

      • MCourtney,

        The resolution of the ice cores depends of the snow accumulation rate: coastal ice cores have 1.2 m ice equivalent snow precipitation per year, which makes that snow layers are easily counted and that the bubbles are fast closed, with an average gas age only 7 years older than the air at the surface. The resolution then is about 8 years. One drawback of the thick layers: rock bottom is reached when the average gas age is only 150 years in the past. Different ice cores have different resolution, but overlap each other and go gradual further back in the past. The resolution goes down with longer time frames but still is 20 years for the past 10,000 years, 40 years for the past 75,000 years and 560 years for the past 800,000 years;

        Even in the worst resolution ice cores, the current 110 ppmv increase in 165 years would be visible, be it with a lower amplitude. Any similar volcanic episode would be visible and more clearly in recent times…

  9. Emissions from the volcanic vents beneath Lake Nyos indicate that annual volcanic CO2 emissions are one or two orders of magnitude greater than alarmists admit.

      • A Bayesian would say yes.
        Which may say more about Bayes than geology.

        Either way, oil in the mantle is not likely to be economically extractable. The argument against abiotic oil theory is that it is practically useless as it doesn’t help anyone find economically useful oil.

  10. This “liquid carbon” is more correctly known as “Carbonatite”, likely molten Calcium carbonate, Magnesium Carbonate or A mixture thereof. Carbonatite magma erupts in parts of the east African rift system, most notably Oldoinyo Lengai Volcano:

    Carbonatite binds CO₂ with Calcium Monoxide.

    • Calcium carbonate reaches heat of decomposition at 637&degC; and is fully decomposed by 810°C.

      CaCO3 ==> CaO + CO2

      Carbonatite melt temperatures may be as low as 600°C.

      At higher, more typical magma temperatures, carbonatite or CaCO3 inclusive magma is quite likely to decompose violently when exposed to the atmosphere.

  11. Where the h#$$ do the alarmists think the atmospheric CO2 came from in the first place? Adam & Eve breathing out? Maybe it was flatulent golden unicorns that generated the “original” methane too.

  12. Just one of the many factors in long-term atmospheric carbon dynamics that we’ve had little understanding of or ability to model to date.

    Very interesting finding.

    • Griff,

      “According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the world’s volcanoes, both on land and undersea, generate about 200 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually”

      since some 4.300 mill years.

      While Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Industry works some 150 years.

      What’s your point?

      • And we generate a lot lot more than that… and the CO2 in the atmosphere is increasing and of course that extra CO2 has the isotopic signature of fossil fuel and… and come to think of it, do you have a point?

        It’s not volcanoes, is it?

  13. Amazing discovery!

    But of course human CO2 emissions absolutely dwarf volcanic CO2:
    https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/earthtalks-volcanoes-or-humans/

    “According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the world’s volcanoes, both on land and undersea, generate about 200 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually, while our automotive and industrial activities cause some 24 billion tons of CO2 emissions every year worldwide. Despite the arguments to the contrary, the facts speak for themselves: Greenhouse gas emissions from volcanoes comprise less than one percent of those generated by today’s human endeavors.”

    • Quoting SA, credibility dive…along with cleantecnica and The Gaurdian etc…well done. I think your shovel should be confiscated…

      • Are you questioning the USGS, who produced the data cited?

        If you have to question Scientific American, New Scientist, NASA, the USGS, the Royal society, the Met Office, etc, etc to defend your point of view, really there’s no data in the world which you can trust. Except a couple of multiply adjusted satellites measuring the troposphere by proxy, I suppose.

        and yet the skeptic arguments are miraculously formed from the same data

      • “and yet the skeptic arguments are miraculously formed from the same data”
        Griff, What skeptical arguments were you thinking of?

      • Griff,
        Many of the organizations you cite, such as Scientific American, no longer have the reputations they had 50 years ago. The USGS, which has morphed into the USBS in recent years, has a poor reputation for its past estimates of crude oil.

        BTW, did you ever apologize for maligning the polar bear researcher?

    • “….Despite the arguments to the contrary, the facts speak for themselves: Greenhouse gas emissions from volcanoes comprise less than one percent of those generated by today’s human endeavors.”

      The trouble is, Greg, that there are no actual facts speaking here, but only the speculative voices of government agencies like the USGS via propagandist media orifices like Scientific American. Scientific propositions don’t become facts until they have been properly replicated, but the USGS’s estimates of global CO2 emissions cannot be replicated by any individual persons. So if their estimates are wrong, we would never know. Nullius in verba and all that.

      • Griff,

        My apologies for misreading your name. I have an optical problem that sometimes makes similar-looking names appear the same to me.

        Thanks for your link to the Terry Gerlich paper. However, it appears only to be reporting estimated CO2 emissions from volcanoes, not observations of total CO2 emissions from the Earth’s crust by all means, so I think it misses my point.

      • Doesn’t matter anyway, because the climate sensitivity to CO2 is almost zero. A bit of warming for each doubling of CO2, and that’s all. There’s no scientific evidence for any other outcome. Model output is not scientific evidence.

      • As you say, James, “There’s no scientific evidence for any other outcome.”. I only wish that the U.N., the E.U., the British Met Office, NOAA, USGS, Royal Society, etc., etc., would drop their threadbare pretense of knowing otherwise. I’m starting to feel embarrassed for them.

  14. “New theories concerning the occurrence of pervasive geogas and lithospheric processes of C-gas production («lithospheric loss in rigidity») can be taken as novel reference and rationale for re-evaluating geological sources of CO2 and CH4, and an important endeavour and work prospect for the years to come.”
    _________________________________________

    novel

    reference

    OR

    unwelcome knowledge.

    Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming or just Business As Usual.

    Move along, nothing to see here.

  15. Oh the joys of owning a non-supercomputer, They replacing even more frequently than their big cousins.

    If that were not the case, I could point us all to a bit of work some scientists types did in South West Scotland a little while ago. Very unusually, they got their hands (and feet) quite dirty – such are the delights of Scottish Weather.
    They found/persuaded/whatever a farmer in that part of the world to plough a field – a rather tired and weed infested old cow & sheep pasture that he wanted to re-seed.
    When he did, they put several carbon dioxide flux gauges in the field and let them go, for an initially intended 12 months but due to inclement weather it became 2 years that these contraptions sat there, measuring CO2 coming out of the dirt.
    Over 2 year period, each hectare (2.5 acres) released 50 tonnes of CO2 – 25 tonnes per year.
    Given that 500 million hectares of Planet Earth are actively farmed, we’ll let Griff do the sums for us.
    (I’ll look out for the polar bears while he does that)

    Somewhile later & very recently, in NW England and not far from that experiment, yours truly got himself a CO2 meter, planted it in his garden in the middle of a rural nowhere and let another not-so-super computer keep score, every 15 minutes. (The CO2 meter actually died first, maybe I shouldn’t be mean to computers)

    1. During summertime, an hour before sunrise, it recorded 600ppm+
    13 or 14 hours later (you get quite long days at 55 degrees latitude) it recorded 380 or 390ppm CO2

    2. During wintertime (you get quite long nights at 55 deg latitude) it varied maybe plus & minus 10 ppm, sunset to sunrise.
    I’ll let greater minds than mine speculate on that.

    Possibly a clue about why OCO is being so tight lipped.
    If (too late now) they started with a thing in the garden they would realise what impossibly nebulous stuff CO2 actually is.
    Those 2 or 3 decimal place numbers coming off the Hawaii volcano gives an incredibly misleading impression about CO2 in the Real World.

    On a blue-sky fantasy – what happens when stars end their lives?
    Supposedly they start burning helium (atomic mass 4) and the first/easiest thing to make is carbon (3 heliums to give something with atomic mass 12 – carbon innit)
    Surely oxygen is quite easily made also, just slam another helium into an existing carbon atom.
    There’s presumably quite a lot of hydrogen still floating around so you can only/surely get a lot of water, CO2 and methane. yes/no?
    Where does all this sh1t go? Presumably gets caught up in planet building eventually because some things, esp alkali metals have a huge affinity for water (oxygen esp) and water has an affinity for water, as does CO2. Methane’s a bit of a wild card here but if there is huuuuuge amounts of it, anything’s possible.
    Just ask Oroville about ‘huge amounts’

    So, the manufacture of oil, is simply just a polymerisation problem involving CO2 and methane with the by-product being water.
    ish, maybe, possibly, pretty please with cherries on :-)

    Answers the question of where all the water on certain planets came from??????????????

    • It is common for CO2 near land surface with biomass to vary greatly, and generally with a trend of deviating from the general atmospheric level in only one direction (upward) when it deviates a lot. Reason: When the surface is removing CO2 from the atmosphere, the main mechanism is photosynthesis, which occurs when the sun is shining. When the sun is shining, it warms the surface which warms air adjacent to the surface, which generally results in convection that stirs the lower troposphere (or the whole depth of the troposphere when this leads to thunderstorms). When the sun is not shining, there is usually no convection stirring things up, and that’s when surface biomass is a net source of CO2 due to emissions from animals, fungi, bacteria, etc.

  16. Regarding: “But given the vast disparity between the estimated reservoir and estimated emissions,”: The reservoir is a quantity of CO2 that is stored underground, emissions is the rate at which they are escaping into the atmosphere. The disparity is in comparing the quantity of something in a tank to the rate at which the tank’s contents are being drained.

    BTW, the reservoir that this article brought up is “Situated under the Western US, 350km beneath the Earth’s surface”, an order of magnitude deeper than the boundary between the crust and the mantle. Volcanic activity comes from much shallower depths near the boundary between the crust and the mantle.

  17. Peta from Cumbria, The science is catching up to my findings. The CO2 read
    in the farmers field is coming from the oxidized natural gas up welling from
    deep in the earth.

    My work was to dig through the topsoil and bio mass and check for hydrocarbons
    before they were eaten by microbes, oxidized, and then measured as CO2
    in our farmers topsoil.

    The richness of upland topsoil, in the presence of adequate moisture, is directly
    related to the amount of natural gas which up well through it.

    The amount of up welling hydrocarbons is reflected by the variations of topsoil
    from the very rich soil in Kansas and the Ukraine to the very poor soil
    over areas where the shield is near the surface and blocks the up welling
    gas such as in the very poor soil around Atlanta, Ga. The granite layer is at
    or near the surface there.

    The amount of CO2 which could be read at the soil surface varies as the soil
    richness varies.

    No one has any idea how much CO2 is contributed to the atmosphere by this
    process.

    The USEPA, in the past, has listed upland soil in the US as a 30Tg year sink
    for methane, because methane is found in the topsoil. It is not a sink. The
    natural gas, not methane, rises from below. When methane hits the atmosphere,
    it rises.

    The first OCO2 satelite readings shows CO2 as my findings suggest.
    Hydrocarbons perk up all around the earth, but are not evenly distributed.

    The fault lines are their path of least resistance, and the CO2 readings
    reflect the oxidation of the hydrocarbons. The satellite readings indicate
    that natural sources of CO@ dwarf human emissions, But no one has
    any real idea of the quantity of these sources.

  18. I think the value of this is in pointing out how little we actually know of the carbon cycle. However, I do not believe volcanic activity significantly influences long term CO2 dynamics.

    Atmospheric CO2 is set by the balance of the temperature dependent exchange of CO2 between sources and sinks.

    Volcanic activity is not temperature dependent. Nor are human inputs. Neither of these sources can be the main drivers of atmospheric CO2 in the modern era.

  19. The finding of CO2 in the topsoil is only related to farming in that farmers
    tend to farm the richest land, which is an indication of the amount of natural
    gas up welling through it. Soil carbon maps tend to indicate the amount of
    up welling hydrocarbons.

    The readings from the Scottish farmers field is one reason that I have stated
    in the past that the ice core readings of CO2 are virtually useless. They do
    not reflect the actual amount to CO2 that the plants have available for growth.

    Ambient CO2 readings do add to the amount of CO2 available for plant
    consumption, but topsoil in the areas beyond glacier coverage will have
    a base amount regardless of the amount high in the atmosphere.

    The ice coverage will restrict the ability of microbes to oxidize hydrocarbons,
    so high atmosphere CO2 readings will fall, but plants above unfrozen topsoil
    will thrive, and hydrocarbons perking up in the oceans will still be oxidized.

    The problems I have with ice core readings is that they are very far form
    the major sources of CO2 excepting volcanoes, and even farther when the
    glaciers extend, and the ability of ice to capture CO2 gas in a meaningful way
    is a theory, in my opinion,yet to be confirmed.

  20. Fine. Now that we have a new perspective on how much more carbon there is on the planet, can we just forget about our “carbon footprints” and get on with the business of living?

  21. If you go to the Smithsonian Natural History they have a video of the deep sea thermal vents and in the old video it states that CO2 and other gasses are coming out of the vents. In the text description of the hydro-thermal vents they don’t mention CO2. It is simply erased.

  22. So a good idea/plan would be to build a network of large diameter (8’?) ducts, the head end of each would be where there is a good(?) amount of CO2 gas being expelled, be it a cauldron, a geyser field, coal fired power plant, etc., all of which would route back to a building housing a large vacuum and tank array for temporary storage of the sucked-up CO2. Next to this building would be another building housing the Nano-spike Catalytic Converter (NaCatCon) equipment per the recent discovery at the ORNL. (See here: https://www.ornl.gov/news/nano-spike-catalysts-convert-carbon-dioxide-directly-ethanol )

    OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Oct. 12, 2016—In a new twist to waste-to-fuel technology, scientists at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have developed an electrochemical process that uses tiny spikes of carbon and copper to turn carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, into ethanol. Their finding, which involves nanofabrication and catalysis science, was serendipitous.

    Be damned the Thorium! Be damned the wind! Be damned the sun! ETHANOL FOR ALL!!

  23. 350 km is far inside the mantle. Further, as the North America plate overrides the Pacific plate, it forces it down. The Pacific plate is ocean crust, not abundant in sedimentary carbonate. So, where would this carbonate have originated.
    I would rather think the seismic data have been wrongly interpreted.

    • donb,
      The Pacific Plate is basaltic at the spreading centers, but acquires a layer of carbonates as it approaches the NA Plate. Also, rivers dump land sediments along the coast, which get dispersed farther out to sea by undersea landslides. Seismic studies have shown the sediments getting scraped off and folded as the plate goes down, but presumably some makes it down with the basaltic basement rock.

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