Opendata, web and dolomites


Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by rock-derived organic carbon oxidation

Total Cost €


EC-Contrib. €






Project "ROC-CO2" data sheet

The following table provides information about the project.


Organization address
city: DURHAM
postcode: DH1 3LE

contact info
title: n.a.
name: n.a.
surname: n.a.
function: n.a.
email: n.a.
telephone: n.a.
fax: n.a.

 Coordinator Country United Kingdom [UK]
 Project website
 Total cost 1˙499˙696 €
 EC max contribution 1˙499˙696 € (100%)
 Programme 1. H2020-EU.1.1. (EXCELLENT SCIENCE - European Research Council (ERC))
 Code Call ERC-2015-STG
 Funding Scheme ERC-STG
 Starting year 2016
 Duration (year-month-day) from 2016-03-01   to  2021-11-30


Take a look of project's partnership.

# participants  country  role  EC contrib. [€] 
1    UNIVERSITY OF DURHAM UK (DURHAM) coordinator 1˙499˙696.00


 Project objective

The global carbon cycle controls Earth’s climate by the emission and drawdown of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere. One of the major sources of CO2 is thought to be the oxidation of organic carbon contained in rocks during chemical weathering. Since the industrial revolution, this flux has been accelerated by burning fossil fuels. However, the natural rates of CO2 emission by rock-derived organic carbon oxidation are very poorly constrained – the only major CO2 source that has not been properly quantified – and the dominant controls on this flux remain unclear. The CO2 release is likely to be ~100 TgC/yr, similar to degassing from volcanoes. Without knowing the rate of CO2 emission and the controls on this flux, it is not possible to fully understand the evolution of atmospheric CO2 and global climate over geological timescales, nor to project future changes over hundreds to thousands of years. To address this deficit and quantify a major geological CO2 source, the proposal will: 1) Assess which factors govern rock-derived organic carbon oxidation. 2) Determine how environmental changes impact oxidation rates and CO2 release. 3) Quantify the global CO2 emissions by rock-derived organic carbon oxidation during chemical weathering, and assess how they may have varied both over Earth history and via anthropogenic change. By quantifying a major CO2 emission for the first time, this project will provide a step change in our understanding of the geological, as opposed to the anthropogenically-modified, carbon cycle. Measurement of rock-derived organic carbon oxidation will require a new approach, harnessing state-of-the-art geochemical proxies carried by rivers (rhenium). Data from river catchments spanning large gradients in the likely environmental controls (erosion, temperature), will elucidate the main factors governing this process, and enable construction of a data-driven numerical model to provide the first quantification of CO2 emissions by this process.


year authors and title journal last update
List of publications.
2017 Robert G. Hilton
Climate regulates the erosional carbon export from the terrestrial biosphere
published pages: 118-132, ISSN: 0169-555X, DOI: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2016.03.028
Geomorphology 277 2020-02-12
2017 Kate Horan, Robert G. Hilton, David Selby, Chris J. Ottley, Darren R. Gröcke, Murray Hicks, Kevin W. Burton
Mountain glaciation drives rapid oxidation of rock-bound organic carbon
published pages: e1701107, ISSN: 2375-2548, DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1701107
Science Advances 3/10 2020-02-12
2017 K. E. Clark, R. G. Hilton, A. J. West, A. Robles Caceres, D. R. Gröcke, T. R. Marthews, R. I. Ferguson, G. P. Asner, M. New, Y. Malhi
Erosion of organic carbon from the Andes and its effects on ecosystem carbon dioxide balance
published pages: 449-469, ISSN: 2169-8953, DOI: 10.1002/2016JG003615
Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences 122/3 2020-02-12
2019 Jin Wang, Robert G. Hilton, Zhangdong Jin, Fei Zhang, Alexander L. Densmore, Darren R. Gröcke, Xiaomei Xu, Gen Li, A. Joshua West
The isotopic composition and fluxes of particulate organic carbon exported from the eastern margin of the Tibetan Plateau
published pages: 1-15, ISSN: 0016-7037, DOI: 10.1016/j.gca.2019.02.031
Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 252 2020-02-12
2018 Guillaume Soulet, Robert G. Hilton, Mark H. Garnett, Mathieu Dellinger, Thomas Croissant, Mateja Ogrič, Sébastien Klotz
Technical note: In situ measurement of flux and isotopic composition of CO<sub>2</sub> released during oxidative weathering of sedimentary rocks
published pages: 4087-4102, ISSN: 1726-4189, DOI: 10.5194/bg-15-4087-2018
Biogeosciences 15/13 2020-02-12
2018 Jordon D. Hemingway, Robert G. Hilton, Niels Hovius, Timothy I. Eglinton, Negar Haghipour, Lukas Wacker, Meng-Chiang Chen, Valier V. Galy
Microbial oxidation of lithospheric organic carbon in rapidly eroding tropical mountain soils
published pages: 209-212, ISSN: 0036-8075, DOI: 10.1126/science.aao6463
Science 360/6385 2020-02-12

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