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PALEOcene greenhouse climate and the effect of basalt weathering on CARBON sequestration

Project description

Palaeocene impact on basalt weathering

Rocks break down in several ways, impacted by water, plant roots, and other objects together with the expansion of minerals. Basalt weathers even faster because it is not as hard as other rocks and external sources can manipulate its structure more easily. The impact of climate change and elevated greenhouse conditions are therefore amplified in the basalt weathering process. The EU-funded PALEOCARBON project addresses the issue through a complex study of silicate weathering of basalts during the Palaeocene greenhouse period, millions of years ago. Irish and international experts in the development and application of botany-based studies will assist in achieving research objectives.


The 2015 Paris Climate Agreement brought nations together to mitigate anthropogenic climate change, with the aim to keep global temperature rise below 2°C above pre-industrial levels. Artificially enhanced weathering of basalt, driven by intensified geochemical and biological processes that naturally promote the absorption of CO2, is considered as a potentially significant negative emissions technology. However, the impact of climate change and elevated greenhouse conditions on the rate and processes of basalt weathering and the role of plants in mediating this process are unconstrained. This Marie Skłodowska Curie Individual Fellowship will address this uncertainty by a multidisciplinary study on silicate weathering of basalts during the Paleocene climatic greenhouse world, using state-of-the-art botanical and geochemical proxies, tools and methods in the PALEOCARBON project. The project will focus on three main objectives: (1) Quantifying elevated Paleocene pCO2, temperature and precipitation levels using fossil leaves; (2) Constraining processes & intensity of silicate weathering and carbon drawdown potential in Paleocene basalts; (3) Quantifying elemental uptake of plants grown in high pCO2 laboratory conditions, to constrain the role of plant in mediating weathering processes. The fellow will work with and bring together Irish and international world-experts in the development and application of botany-based climatic and atmospheric proxies (prof. Jennifer McElwain), and basalt (silicate) weathering processes (prof. Frank McDermott), to accomplish the PALEOCARBON research-objectives on constraining fundamental end-member parameters that control the efficiency of (artificially) enhanced weathering as a potential negative carbon emissions technology. This prestigious fellowship will enable the fellow to attain career maturity and independence, and to become a leader in the European research community.


Net EU contribution
€ 220 891,79
4 Dublin

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Ireland Eastern and Midland Dublin
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 220 891,80

Participants (1)