The coupling of Phanerozoic continental weathering and marine phosphorus cycle

Ruimin Wang, Xianguo Lang, Weiming Ding, Yarong Liu, Tianzheng Huang, Wenbo Tang, Bing Shen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Organic matter production and decomposition primarily modulate the atmospheric O2 and CO2 levels. The long term marine primary productivity is controlled by the terrestrial input of phosphorus (P), while the marine P cycle would also affect organic matter production. In the past 540 million years, the evolution of terrestrial system, e.g. colonization of continents by vascular land plants in late Paleozoic, would certainly affect terrestrial P input into the ocean, which in turn might have impacted the marine primary productivity and organic carbon burial. However, it remains unclear how the marine P cycle would respond to the change of terrestrial system. Here we reconstruct the secular variations of terrestrial P input and biological utilization of seawater P in Phanerozoic. Our study indicates that riverine dissolved P input and marine P biological utilization (i.e. the fraction of P being buried as organophosphorus) are inversely correlated, suggesting the coupling of continental P input and marine P cycle. We propose an increase of P input would elevate surface ocean productivity, which in turn enhances marine iron redox cycle. Active Fe redox cycle favors the scavenging of seawater P through FeOOH absorption and authigenic phosphate formation in sediments, and accordingly reduces the bioavailability of seawater P. The negative feedback of marine P cycle to terrestrial P input would keep a relatively constant organic carbon burial, limiting the variations of surface Earth temperature and atmospheric O2 level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5794
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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