The University of Southampton
University of Southampton Institutional Repository

Composition of continental crust altered by the emergence of land plants

Composition of continental crust altered by the emergence of land plants
Composition of continental crust altered by the emergence of land plants
The evolution of land plants during the Palaeozoic Era transformed Earth’s biosphere 1. Because the Earth's surface and interior are linked by tectonic processes, the linked evolution of the biosphere and sedimentary rocks should be recorded as a near-contemporary shift in the composition of the continental crust. To test this hypothesis, we assessed the isotopic signatures of zircon formed at subduction zones where marine sediments are transported into the mantle 2,3, thereby recording interactions between surface environments and the deep Earth. Using oxygen and lutetium-hafnium isotopes of magmatic zircon that respectively track surface weathering (time-independent) 4 and radiogenic decay (time-dependent) 5, we find a correlation in the composition of continental crust after 430 Myr ago, which is coeval with the onset of enhanced complexity and stability in sedimentary systems related to the evolution of vascular plants. The expansion of terrestrial vegetation brought channelled sand-bed and meandering rivers, muddy floodplains, and thicker soils, lengthening the duration of weathering before final marine deposition 6,7. Collectively, our results suggest that the evolution of vascular plants coupled the degree of weathering and timescales of sediment routing to depositional basins where they were subsequently subducted and melted. The late Palaeozoic isotopic shift of zircon indicates that the greening of the continents was recorded in the deep Earth.
1752-0894
735-740
Spencer, Christopher
37a2e322-9435-40f1-b1ad-58d702b43176
Davies, Neil
bce27152-57f4-4626-a7be-725aaf461083
Gernon, Thomas
658041a0-fdd1-4516-85f4-98895a39235e
Wang, Xi
731f0f78-97d9-49d7-b5a0-d03bb008f284
McMahon, William
bea753b2-9c69-4563-9cfc-b4419e6089b4
Morrell, Taylor Rae
a289fa90-8e14-4f8f-a89b-912196f69f31
Hincks, Thea
9654038a-2f5c-40bc-8f0e-33afc0b1fb71
Pufahl, Peir
18980a46-6f33-4410-821a-f2fbfa456ca3
Brasier, Alexander
01918fc9-68d3-47d1-b527-d324f038780c
Seraine, Mariana
f3b76cdd-8a30-48c8-b040-ae5bfd3abae2
Lu, Gui-Mei
1836f17f-25b8-478c-90c1-6e1004c0dd3f
Spencer, Christopher
37a2e322-9435-40f1-b1ad-58d702b43176
Davies, Neil
bce27152-57f4-4626-a7be-725aaf461083
Gernon, Thomas
658041a0-fdd1-4516-85f4-98895a39235e
Wang, Xi
731f0f78-97d9-49d7-b5a0-d03bb008f284
McMahon, William
bea753b2-9c69-4563-9cfc-b4419e6089b4
Morrell, Taylor Rae
a289fa90-8e14-4f8f-a89b-912196f69f31
Hincks, Thea
9654038a-2f5c-40bc-8f0e-33afc0b1fb71
Pufahl, Peir
18980a46-6f33-4410-821a-f2fbfa456ca3
Brasier, Alexander
01918fc9-68d3-47d1-b527-d324f038780c
Seraine, Mariana
f3b76cdd-8a30-48c8-b040-ae5bfd3abae2
Lu, Gui-Mei
1836f17f-25b8-478c-90c1-6e1004c0dd3f

Spencer, Christopher, Davies, Neil, Gernon, Thomas, Wang, Xi, McMahon, William, Morrell, Taylor Rae, Hincks, Thea, Pufahl, Peir, Brasier, Alexander, Seraine, Mariana and Lu, Gui-Mei (2022) Composition of continental crust altered by the emergence of land plants. Nature Geoscience, 15 (9), 735-740. (doi:10.1038/s41561-022-00995-2). (In Press)

Record type: Article

Abstract

The evolution of land plants during the Palaeozoic Era transformed Earth’s biosphere 1. Because the Earth's surface and interior are linked by tectonic processes, the linked evolution of the biosphere and sedimentary rocks should be recorded as a near-contemporary shift in the composition of the continental crust. To test this hypothesis, we assessed the isotopic signatures of zircon formed at subduction zones where marine sediments are transported into the mantle 2,3, thereby recording interactions between surface environments and the deep Earth. Using oxygen and lutetium-hafnium isotopes of magmatic zircon that respectively track surface weathering (time-independent) 4 and radiogenic decay (time-dependent) 5, we find a correlation in the composition of continental crust after 430 Myr ago, which is coeval with the onset of enhanced complexity and stability in sedimentary systems related to the evolution of vascular plants. The expansion of terrestrial vegetation brought channelled sand-bed and meandering rivers, muddy floodplains, and thicker soils, lengthening the duration of weathering before final marine deposition 6,7. Collectively, our results suggest that the evolution of vascular plants coupled the degree of weathering and timescales of sediment routing to depositional basins where they were subsequently subducted and melted. The late Palaeozoic isotopic shift of zircon indicates that the greening of the continents was recorded in the deep Earth.

Text
Plants-and-Zircon-revisions-v.2_cleanb - Accepted Manuscript
Download (1MB)

More information

Accepted/In Press date: 24 June 2022

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 468136
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/468136
ISSN: 1752-0894
PURE UUID: 840efa8e-1190-46eb-98cb-11c09f22a5d6
ORCID for Thomas Gernon: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-7717-2092
ORCID for Thea Hincks: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-4537-6194

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 03 Aug 2022 16:46
Last modified: 30 Sep 2022 04:02

Export record

Altmetrics

Contributors

Author: Christopher Spencer
Author: Neil Davies
Author: Thomas Gernon ORCID iD
Author: Xi Wang
Author: William McMahon
Author: Taylor Rae Morrell
Author: Thea Hincks ORCID iD
Author: Peir Pufahl
Author: Alexander Brasier
Author: Mariana Seraine
Author: Gui-Mei Lu

Download statistics

Downloads from ePrints over the past year. Other digital versions may also be available to download e.g. from the publisher's website.

View more statistics

Atom RSS 1.0 RSS 2.0

Contact ePrints Soton: eprints@soton.ac.uk

ePrints Soton supports OAI 2.0 with a base URL of http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/cgi/oai2

This repository has been built using EPrints software, developed at the University of Southampton, but available to everyone to use.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.

×