Nature 426, 323-326 (20 November 2003) | doi:10.1038/nature02131

The long-term carbon cycle, fossil fuels and atmospheric composition

Robert A. Berner1


The long-term carbon cycle operates over millions of years and involves the exchange of carbon between rocks and the Earth's surface. There are many complex feedback pathways between carbon burial, nutrient cycling, atmospheric carbon dioxide and oxygen, and climate. New calculations of carbon fluxes during the Phanerozoic eon (the past 550 million years) illustrate how the long-term carbon cycle has affected the burial of organic matter and fossil-fuel formation, as well as the evolution of atmospheric composition.

  1. Department of Geology and Geophysics, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06520-8109, USA