Carbonate Deposition, Climate Stability, and Neoproterozoic Ice Ages

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Science  31 Oct 2003:
Vol. 302, Issue 5646, pp. 859-862
DOI: 10.1126/science.1088342

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The evolutionary success of planktic calcifiers during the Phanerozoic stabilized the climate system by introducing a new mechanism that acts to buffer ocean carbonate-ion concentration: the saturation-dependent preservation of carbonate in sea-floor sediments. Before this, buffering was primarily accomplished by adjustment of shallow-water carbonate deposition to balance oceanic inputs from weathering on land. Neoproterozoic ice ages of near-global extent and multimillion-year duration and the formation of distinctive sedimentary (cap) carbonates can thus be understood in terms of the greater sensitivity of the Precambrian carbon cycle to the loss of shallow-water environments and CO2-climate feedback on ice-sheet growth.

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