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Rapid Soil Production and Weathering in the Western Alps, New Zealand

Science  16 Jan 2014:

DOI: 10.1126/science.1244908

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Abstract

Evaluating conflicting theories about the influence of mountains on carbon dioxide cycling and climate requires understanding weathering fluxes from tectonically uplifting landscapes. The lack of soil production and weathering rate measurements in Earth's most rapidly uplifting mountains has made it difficult to determine whether weathering rates increase or decline in response to rapid erosion. 10Be concentrations in soils from the western Southern Alps, New Zealand, demonstrate that soil is produced from bedrock more rapidly than previously recognized, at rates up to 2.5 mm per year. Weathering intensity data further indicate that soil chemical denudation rates increase proportionally with erosion rates. These high weathering rates support the view that mountains play a key role in global-scale chemical weathering and thus have potentially important implications for the global carbon cycle.

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