Plate Tectonics Drives Ocean Oxygenation

Peer-Reviewed Publication

CNRS

Dark, organic-rich sediments indicating conditions of low ocean oxygenation, sandwiched between limestone beds.
IMAGE: DARK, ORGANIC-RICH SEDIMENTS INDICATING CONDITIONS OF LOW OCEAN OXYGENATION, SANDWICHED BETWEEN LIMESTONE BEDS. view more CREDIT: © CHRISTOPHE THOMAZO

Until now, it has been assumed that the oxygenation of the oceans over geological timescales has mainly been driven by atmospheric oxygen levels. However, a new study published in Nature on June 27 2022  suggests otherwise. Work by scientists at the Biogeosciences Laboratory (CNRS/UBFC), together with their colleagues at the University of California’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, shows that the movement of tectonic plates has probably contributed to ocean oxygenation. To demonstrate this, the scientists used a three-dimensional climate model to recreate conditions on Earth from 540 million years ago to the present day, in particular taking into account ocean circulation currents. In their model, the scientists modified the position of the continents while keeping the atmospheric oxygen concentration constant. The result was that the oxygen concentration in the oceans increased, despite a constant level of oxygen in the atmosphere. The new paper thus shows for the first time that atmospheric and oceanic oxygen levels are largely independent of each other. Since oxygen is vital to marine life, these findings reveal the hitherto underestimated role played by plate tectonics in the evolution of biodiversity in the oceans over geological time scales.


JOURNAL

Nature

DOI

10.1038/s41586-022-05018-z 

METHOD OF RESEARCH

Computational simulation/modeling

SUBJECT OF RESEARCH

Not applicable

ARTICLE TITLE

Continental configuration controls ocean oxygenation during the Phanerozoic

ARTICLE PUBLICATION DATE

17-Aug-2022

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Peta of Newark
August 18, 2022 2:28 am

Garbage – and wtf is a ‘3 dimensional climate model’?

Of course tectonics Oxygated the water.

  1. Tectonics makes volcanoes
  2. Volcanoes release CO2
  3. They also release myriad other nutriments vital for All Life On Earth
  4. …..including green slimy things in the water
  5. Said slimey stuff uses the nurtiments (inc CO2) and releases Oxygen as ‘waste’
  6. …..in the water as tiny bubbles
  7. Because Oxygen is in in a Love Affair with itself just as great as Michael Mann has with himself, those tiny bubbles dissolve in the water.

Jobs a good-un.
(Did you see my 3D computer – fuggin epic innit. If not, it’ll blow your mind when you do catch site, but in a different way to the junk presented in this story)

Peta of Newark
Reply to  Peta of Newark
August 18, 2022 2:32 am

reply to edit to PS
OMG, get the slepping eeyores – me-tinks my computer haz teh makings of a 3D Climate copumter.
Howz yor pooter – I’ll go 50/50 on the next Nobel if you like 😀

fretslider
Reply to  Peta of Newark
August 18, 2022 3:01 am

wtf is a ‘3 dimensional climate model’?”

It’s timeless….

Redge
Reply to  fretslider
August 18, 2022 5:09 am

It’s pointless too

Reply to  Peta of Newark
August 18, 2022 4:10 am

 “and wtf is a ‘3 dimensional climate model’?”

I can’t take any confuser game seriously
unless it has four dimensions, or even five.

Richard Page
Reply to  Richard Greene
August 18, 2022 9:38 am

I knew you were going to say that.

Reply to  Peta of Newark
August 19, 2022 2:41 am

I think the issue is that the major anoxic ocean events that have happened since the Great Oxygenation Event when photosynthesising life first appeared and poisoned 99.999% of the pre existent species…(A record mankind has no chance of beating) …have been linked to the cessation of vertical ocean movements such as that which happens when a warm Gulf Stream, meets a cold Arctic ocean, with less salinity, due to it being largely fresh water ice melt…and then the cold current sinks to the depths creating a submarine, reverse, cold, but oxygenated current on the sea bed.

Steve Case
August 18, 2022 2:49 am

Given that the deep ocean “Conveyor Belt” takes a thousand years to make the transit, one has to wonder about the oxygen source for all those goblin and six gilled sharks and other stuff in the deep oceans.

Other than that, models schmodels.

Joao Martins
August 18, 2022 2:54 am

They discovered that Henry’s Law violates the sound knowledge produced by their models?

fretslider
Reply to  Joao Martins
August 18, 2022 2:58 am

Not only that but that the oceans discriminate between atmospheric gases….

Reply to  fretslider
August 18, 2022 8:05 am

They sure do. The atmosphere is comprised of 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, 0.9% argon, and 0.1% other gases including carbon dioxide. The gases with the lowest solubility in the ocean ended up being the dominant atmospheric gases via Henry’s Law of Solubility working 24/7.

comment image

Last edited 1 month ago by coolclimateinfo
commieBob
Reply to  Joao Martins
August 18, 2022 4:12 am

Indeed. The CO2 concentration in the atmosphere, over time, is governed by the much higher amount of CO2 in the oceans. link Given that, someone needs to explain why Henry’s law can be ignored for the balance between ocean oxygen and atmospheric oxygen.

One of the gotchas with ocean oxygen is that it is produced by plankton. That means there is more oxygen in the upper ocean (where the plankton live) than there is at depth. link I’ve seen the statement that plankton produce more oxygen than trees. So, for sure, we can at least say that Henry’s law governs the balance between atmospheric oxygen and the level of oxygen in the upper ocean.

It’s easy to find figures for how much CO2 is stored in the ocean vs. the atmosphere. A quick web search didn’t produce the same data for oxygen.

I welcome the news that plate tectonic processes produce a major amount of oxygen. It shows that all those papers that purported to explain ocean oxygen to the last decimal place were wrong. Folks need it continually pounded into their heads that the majority of published research findings are wrong. 🙂 link

Duane
Reply to  commieBob
August 18, 2022 4:46 am

Henry’s Law only applies to small binary systems under static conditions, and is simply a boundary condition. Such as dealing with a sealed bottle of soda pop – as long as the cap is on and the gas in the space above the liquid is pure CO2, then the dissolved CO2 in the soda remains high. Pop the cap, the CO-2 only “atmosphere” above the liquid is suddenly typical air mix with a very low concentration of CO2, and the dissolved CO2 in the soda eventually dissipates to near atmospheric concentrations.

Henry’s law does not account for large complex systems where internal processes (such as generation of oxygen within the water column, as may be generated by sea life, or generation of oxygen as a result of plate tectonics and geochemical process operating at the boundary between seawater and the crust of the Earth) dominate over the processes affected the seawater-atmosphere boundary conditions. The researcher’s conclusion that the ocean and atmosphere operate largely independently of each other is certainly correct.

There has been a lot of virulent and snarky attacks in the comments here on this research because it involves the dreaded M-word – models – in attempting to understand how the oceans and atmosphere interact. But the ignoramuses commenting here don’t get it that all science, and all engineering, and all manufacturing of everything that you have ever used in life is based upon models. There are models that work extremely well, and others that don’t. The typical ignoramus stupidly attacks all models.

By the way, the bottle of soda pop example is a model. A model with the same limitations as Henry’s Law.

Last edited 1 month ago by Duane
commieBob
Reply to  Duane
August 18, 2022 5:23 am

The typical ignoramus stupidly attacks all models.

Yep. Of course, there’s the other kind of ignoramus who doesn’t understand what she’s doing, writes a model and, when reality begs to differ with the model output, complains that reality is wrong.

Joe Crawford
Reply to  commieBob
August 18, 2022 10:08 am

That normally occurs when the ‘ignoramus’ has an unfailing belief that computers can do no wrong. If you just present them with the problem their answer is always correct :<)

If I remember correctly, many years ago, when they (the DOD) were considering using off-the-shelf minicomputers for aircraft flight control systems (I belief the example was a DEC PDP-11), the report determined it would return one incorrect answer per 6 hours running time due to cosmic rays at a flight altitude of 20,000ft. Of course that was back during the arguments between TMR (tripple modular redundence) vs. TEC (twin full error checked computers with spare) architecture.

Duane
Reply to  Joe Crawford
August 18, 2022 10:25 am

You’re yet another ignoramus who also cannot read, apparently. I stated that everything in the world ever designed by man is based upon models, and that some models work extremely good, and some don’t.

The computing device you are hacking away it is the result of thousands of models, some run by computers, others from the pre-digital era. The language you are using is a model. The home you are living in was designed with a model, as is the electrical power system that powers your home and your computer, and the vehicles you drive are also designed and built using models.

Science itself is a model.

But go ahead and continue yakking about how all models are effed up – you only prove your ignorance and stupidity.

ATheoK
Reply to  Duane
August 18, 2022 4:25 pm

In the real world, engineers and programmers are held liable for their model predictions.
At a minimum, the corporations would fire the person who screwed up the model design and programming. Such a termination usually skewered that person(s) career.

If climate researchers/scientists are held liable for their predictions, they’d fix their models.

To be sure, writing on a job application that they used to write climate/weather models would prevent them from ever working at low end fast food dumps.

Joe Crawford
Reply to  Duane
August 20, 2022 7:44 am

Duane, You must have misread the heading of my comment, i.e. Reply to  commieBob. I was merely pointing out the fallibility of computers, even when programmed correctly.

Duane
Reply to  commieBob
August 18, 2022 10:21 am

No ignoramus here at all – advance degreed engineer and scientist here with a lifetime(40 years) of working with engineering models based upon scientific laws and principles, as anybody who actually has ever designed or built anything must do, unlike you and the other ignoramuses here who only yak. Attacking models because they are models is ignorant and also stupid.

Janice Moore
Reply to  Duane
August 18, 2022 10:58 am

No ignoramus here at all – advance degreed engineer and scientist here…

So, which is it?

A. You are a liar.

OR

B. You are psychotic.

Rick C
Reply to  Duane
August 18, 2022 7:57 pm

OK, I’m also and engineer with a lifetime of experience. Yes, we design and build stuff using models (mathematical, physical and even computer) but we go to considerable lengths to validate the models we rely on by extensive real world testing and experimentation.

The legitimate complaint at issue here is that folks calling themselves scientists write large complicated computer programs (3D or otherwise) that they think are good representations of the real physical world and then believe the the output is correct prediction of the modeled process behavior. But their models are incapable of being validated. How do you do a physical experiment to measure the effects of plate tectonics on ocean oxygen content? You can’t and you can never verify that what you think happens as embodied by your model is what actually happens. It’s just an exercise in computer assisted navel gazing.

Reply to  Duane
August 19, 2022 1:31 am

Dude, you’re the only one insulting and throwing ad hominems. We all know what role engineering models play, very few here are not at least tangentially technologists. The fact that you equate engineering models with climate models, tells us you have no friggin’ clue how engineering models actually get built, no matter what bio you post. It’s like the difference between a bear and a teddy bear, and if you were really an engineer, it would be a matter of pride to you. Any engineers here disagree?
The model you are trying to defend here, though, seems about as scientific as the climate models with CO2 control buttons. I cannot confirm it, as it is behind a paywall, and I don’t think the precís above justifies wasting my money. Had they something intelligent to add, they would have supplied at least a basic description of the process/es involved, or is “tectonics causes” now the new scientific consensus?
P.S. Where were you when six hundred of us were arguing that tectonics and the geosphere in general are warrantlessly ignored by you and your climastrology pals?

Richard Page
Reply to  Duane
August 18, 2022 9:42 am

I think what did it for me was singling out oxygen in the ocean being completely independant of atmospheric oxygen whilst implying (by omission perhaps) that this wasn’t the case for CO2. At that point it lost a good deal of credibility.

commieBob
Reply to  Richard Page
August 18, 2022 9:59 am

The problem with oxygen is that in some specific places it is so depleted that oxygen dependent life isn’t possible. Of course, that doesn’t describe the majority of the ocean.

Scientists generally can’t see the forest for the trees. That makes it hard to figure out some of the important overall facts. For instance, I couldn’t easily find out how much oxygen is held in the oceans.

Richard Page
Reply to  commieBob
August 18, 2022 12:32 pm

How much oxygen is in the oceans? At least a third of the total volume plus oxygenated water. Yeah – I can only get an approximate expression as well.

ATheoK
Reply to  commieBob
August 18, 2022 4:29 pm

For instance, I couldn’t easily find out how much oxygen is held in the oceans”

The best you could hope for is opinions and super swagged guesses.

Duane
Reply to  Richard Page
August 18, 2022 10:27 am

What they did was show that seawater concentrations in the ocean are independent of what is in the atmosphere. That conclusion does not require that all gas concentrations differ, only that one very big one – oxygen – does.

The processes that determine CO2 concentrations in seawater are not necessarily the processes that determine O2 concentrations in seawater.

Richard Page
Reply to  Duane
August 18, 2022 12:42 pm

Again, I’d have to say that this appears, on the surface, to be BS. Nitrogen is the most common atmospheric gas, oxygen is a minority. CO2 is a trace gas (part and parcel of the 0.03% trace gases cocktail) and yet Nitrogen and CO2 aren’t mentioned as being affected, just oxygen, which falls right in the middle – you see what I’m getting at, if it was the most or least common gas I could understand it. It’s the fact that the affected gas, oxygen, falls right in the middle as regards concentrations, that I cannot get my head round – it shows (in the absence of other factors) a remarkable precision to target the one and ignore the rest, almost a conscious, intelligent choice about that target that I simply cannot believe in.

fretslider
August 18, 2022 2:57 am

It’s difficult to know where to begin. But…

It’s DOA

“a three-dimensional climate model “

Only three?

“In their model, the scientists modified the position of the continents while keeping the atmospheric oxygen concentration constant. 

“The new paper thus shows for the first time that atmospheric and oceanic oxygen levels are largely independent of each other. “

So, on the one hand we are told atmospheric and oceanic Oxygen levels are largely independent of each other, and on the other that the reverse is true of Carbon dioxide.

Allow me to quote an August body of scientists – concerned scientists:

“Carbon pollution is changing the ocean’s chemistry, slowing its ability to uptake CO2, making it more acidic, and harming shellfish and other marine life we depend on.”

https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/co2-and-ocean-acidification

If it takes seconds to pull these papers apart (here) what is going on with peer review?

Richard Page
Reply to  fretslider
August 18, 2022 9:44 am

Actually it has to be 4 if they’re explaining the development over time as we all know that time is the 4th dimension. However, even fewer people would take them seriosly if they said that!

Richard Page
Reply to  Richard Page
August 18, 2022 12:44 pm

Ugh, seriosly? Thick fingers again – apologies to the delicate sensibilities of the readers.

Agamemnon
August 18, 2022 4:17 am

540 Ma ago heh? What about the great oxygenation event in the Paleoproterozoic? I mean why not conduct that study today when oceanic currents are well known instead of the Cambrian where these oceanic currents are subjected to the position of continents that is still an open debate.

Reply to  Agamemnon
August 19, 2022 4:27 pm

Agamemnon
There were two oxygenation events each raising atmospheric O2 to a new level. The archaean level of < 0.01 ppm O2 was raised at the first oxygenation step/up at the Huronian glaciation about 2.5-2.8 billion years ago, to around 1 ppm. Then the Cryogenic glaciations at over half a billion years ago raised up oxygen to its current level of ~20 ppm. Feedbacks involving organic burial and photosynthesis keep this level stable.

https://ptolemy2.wordpress.com/2022/06/18/the-oxygenation-two-step-of-earths-atmosphere/

Last edited 1 month ago by Phil Salmon
R Taylor
August 18, 2022 4:54 am

The geometry of the continents shapes that of ocean currents, which affects many things such as the global distribution of heat. Rather than dismiss, out of hand, an variable effect on gas solubility, I am content simply when “scientific” authors refrain from predicting some looming catastrophe “in a warming world”.

Editor
August 18, 2022 5:08 am

Plate tectonics ultimately drive everything on Earth.

Alan M
Reply to  David Middleton
August 18, 2022 6:05 am

Spoken like a true geologist David, it’s all either up, down or sideways

aussiecol
Reply to  Alan M
August 18, 2022 3:55 pm

Speaking from a ignorant geologists point of view, what about the fossil fuel deposits that get swallowed up by plate tectonics, would there be any connection to CO2 levels David?

Reply to  aussiecol
August 19, 2022 2:48 am

Far far worse than that, the huge beds CO2 rich of dead shellfish that comprise ocean strata that get subducted down to release the gases into active volcanoes…

The nature of phosynthetic food chains is that CO2 is taken up and generally held for billions of years in terms of either limestine crusts, or organic (saturated) rocks like coil and oil shales and so on.

Volcanism releases the CO2, and man is getting reasonably good at releasing the more easily accessible organics, back to atmosphere.

Both of these feed the photsynthetic food chains.

Janice Moore
Reply to  Alan M
August 18, 2022 4:13 pm

Heh. When my college roommate took Geology 101, her gracious professor was more than half-serious when he gave his apprehensive students some reassurance before their first exam, saying:

“If you can’t think of anything else, write down ‘plate tectonics.’ You are more than likely to be correct.”

🙂

Last edited 1 month ago by Janice Moore
ResourceGuy
August 18, 2022 5:40 am

Forced model harassments should be a crime.

JimA
August 18, 2022 5:50 am

WAVE ACTION, Dumbasses!

Serge Ferry
August 18, 2022 6:12 am

Well, and how do they explain the alternation of dark OM-rich shales (poorly-oxygenated) and light-toned (oxygenated) limestone beds (illustration picture) ? If through the displacement of continents as suggested by the paper, these should move back and forth at very high speed. Something should be missing in the model.

fretslider
Reply to  Serge Ferry
August 18, 2022 7:07 am

In practice, the idealised model version is wishful thinking – do they hope for the worst? I think they do

tgasloli
August 18, 2022 6:50 am

For the umpteenth time a computer model is NOT science, it does NOT demonstrate, it is NOT a study, it is NOT research.

If this were real research they would have real data of oxygen concentration or a proxy of oxygen concentration correlated to plate tectonics.

Nature needs to stop publishing this garbage & the government’s so-called science agencies needs to stop wasting borrowed money on it.

DrEd
Reply to  tgasloli
August 18, 2022 7:20 am

That’s right. A model (here) is a method of codifying a hypothesis. What is science and research is testing the model (output, performance) against observable data and results from experiment created to test the hypotheses.

August 18, 2022 7:40 am

Limestone + heat + pressure + water + iron = methane + iron rich rock.

There is likely natural gas produced by continental drift from the skeletons of marine life.

Ron Long
August 18, 2022 7:50 am

OK, the causative relationship between plate tectonics and ocean oxygen levels is not at all clear, but don’t goof on Plate Tectonics: I Feel the Earth Move Under My Feet…..

Walter Sobchak
August 18, 2022 9:31 am

“the scientists used a three-dimensional climate model to recreate conditions on Earth from 540 million years ago to the present day”

I.e. They played a video game.

So what.

ResourceGuy
Reply to  Walter Sobchak
August 18, 2022 10:19 am

uh hm, model training

Andy Pattullo
August 18, 2022 1:30 pm

“The new paper thus shows for the first time that atmospheric and oceanic oxygen levels are largely independent of each other.”

No it doesn’t. It shows us nothing other than the favoured hypothesis of the modellers. It is a model not an observation. Where did all the real scientists go?

Doonman
August 18, 2022 1:44 pm

The new paper thus shows for the first time that atmospheric and oceanic oxygen levels are largely independent of each other.

The new paper shows no such thing.The model results shows that. The paper is about the model results. But is the model reliable? No one knows and can’t know because the experiment was done inside a computer and not in the atmosphere and the ocean.

Smart Rock
August 18, 2022 2:09 pm

Plate tectonics drives EVERYTHING. So there.

Reply to  Smart Rock
August 18, 2022 2:44 pm

Yes and the climastrologists are only now rediscovering it 🙄

August 18, 2022 2:41 pm

Organic burial is very important as it oxygenates the atmosphere by separating oxygen from carbon. This underlies a feedback by which oxygen level in the atmosphere is kept stable at its current attractor at ~ 21 %.

https://ptolemy2.wordpress.com/2022/06/18/the-oxygenation-two-step-of-earths-atmosphere/

Paradoxically it turns out that CO2, more than oxygen, which oxygenates (“ventilates”) the deep ocean:

https://ptolemy2.wordpress.com/2020/10/14/atmospheric-co2-is-good-for-the-deep-ocean/

ATheoK
August 18, 2022 4:02 pm

shows that the movement of tectonic plates has probably contributed to ocean oxygenation.”

“In their model, the scientists modified the position of the continents while keeping the atmospheric oxygen concentration constant. The result was that the oxygen concentration in the oceans increased, despite a constant level of oxygen in the atmosphere. The new paper thus shows for the first time that atmospheric and oceanic oxygen levels are largely independent of each other.”

Confirmation bias and sheer stupidity make awful models.

I doubt they included water dwelling algae in their models.

August 18, 2022 11:11 pm

Tectonic rearrangement of the oceans is the main factor driving climate change over the longest multi-million year timescales. It has been hidden in the wardrobe in recent years to make way for the fiction that CO2 primarily drives climate.

Reply to  Phil Salmon
August 18, 2022 11:49 pm
August 19, 2022 2:35 am

With respect this may be news to you, but the paleogeology boys have long known that plate tectonics was, probably, along with volcanism and the emergence of photosynthesising life, the greatest driver of both climate and atmospheric and ocean constituents.

Of course this is latterly associated with the fashionable view that the intermediary is Carbon Dioxide, but it could just as easily be cloud formation ….
The reality is that life. volcanism, plate tectonics, Milankovic cycles, cosmic rays, wandering asteroids and unicorns farting in utopia all probably make a difference of unknown quantity.
The climate and geology story is still evolving very fast.

eyesonu
August 19, 2022 3:07 am

I wasn’t allowed to read the publication as it’s paywalled in Nature. Must be really secret and maybe ‘classified’!

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