Simulations Identify Missing Link to Determine Carbon in Deep Earth Reservoirs


Understanding the Earth’s carbon cycle has important implications for understanding climate change and the health of biospheres.

But scientists don’t yet understand how much carbon lies deep in the Earth’s water reservoirs — for example, in water that is under extreme pressure in the mantle — because experiments are difficult to conduct under such conditions.

Researchers at the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering (PME) at the University of Chicago and the University of Science and Technology in Hong-Kong have created a complex computer simulation that will help scientists determine the concentration of carbon under the conditions of the mantle, which include temperatures of up to 1000K and pressures of up to 10 GPa, which is 100,000 times greater than on the Earth’s surface.

These simulations provide an ingenious way to evaluate the missing link between measurements (in particular, vibrational spectra used to discover signatures of ions in water) and the ion and molecular concentrations in these conditions. This research, which was published recently in the journal Nature Communications, has important implications in understanding the Earth’s carbon cycle.


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