Carbon in carbonite rock

If you want to see a lot of carbon in one place, try the Himalayas.

By: The Element On The Move Team (Programme and web teams)

  • Duration 5 mins
  • Updated Sunday 7th May 2000
  • Introductory level
  • Posted under Chemistry, Biology
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An example of carbonate rock Copyrighted image Copyright:

Mountain ranges like the Himalayas form part of the world's largest reservoir of carbon: carbonate rock. The Himalayas started off at the bottom of the sea - as sediments rich in calcium carbonate. Now they are tilted and buckled, but once they were flat layers of underwater sediment.

Today some parts of the Himalayas are still rising - as fast as your fingernails are growing. These uplifted mountains are huge stores of carbon, re-exposed. Mountains like these are the most spectacular examples of carbonate rocks. But, less spectacularly, calcium carbonate can be a major part of common soils as well.

Where do you find the carbon?

Rock containing carbonate carbon, mostly limestone

What form of carbon?

Mainly calcium carbonate

How long will the carbon remain?

Tens to hundreds of million of years

How much carbon is there?

About 40 million x 1012 kg C

What processes will free the carbon?

Weathering, volcanism, dissolution

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