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The geochemical composition of the terrestrial surface (without soils) and comparison with the upper continental crust

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Hartmann, J., Dürr, H., Moosdorf, N., Meybeck, M., & Kempe, S. (2012). The geochemical composition of the terrestrial surface (without soils) and comparison with the upper continental crust. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF EARTH SCIENCES, 101(1), 365-376. doi:10.1007/s00531-010-0635-x.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0018-93D9-F
Abstract
The terrestrial surface, the "skin of the earth", is an important interface for global (geochemical) material fluxes between major reservoirs of the Earth system: continental and oceanic crust, ocean and atmosphere. Because of a lack in knowledge of the geochemical composition of the terrestrial surface, it is not well understood how the geochemical evolution of the Earth's crust is impacted by its properties. Therefore, here a first estimate of the geochemical composition of the terrestrial surface is provided, which can be used for further analysis. The geochemical average compositions of distinct lithological classes are calculated based on a literature review and applied to a global lithological map. Comparison with the bulk composition of the upper continental crust shows that the geochemical composition of the terrestrial surface (below the soil horizons) is significantly different from the assumed average of the upper continental crust. Specifically, the elements Ca, S, C, Cl and Mg are enriched at the terrestrial surface, while Na is depleted (and probably K). Analysis of these results provide further evidence that chemical weathering, chemical alteration of minerals in marine settings, biogeochemical processes (e.g. sulphate reduction in sediments and biomineralization) and evaporite deposition are important for the geochemical composition of the terrestrial surface on geological time scales. The movement of significant amounts of carbonate to the terrestrial surface is identified as the major process for observed Ca-differences. Because abrupt and significant changes of the carbonate abundance on the terrestrial surface are likely influencing CO2-consumption rates by chemical weathering on geological time scales and thus the carbon cycle, refined, spatially resolved analysis is suggested. This should include the recognition of the geochemical composition of the shelf areas, now being below sea level.