CO2 emitted at a high rate by soil

Concerned about increases in atmospheric CO2? Read this description of an interesting experiment and its fascinating result. Soil does produce a lot of CO2.  Check it out.

Interestingly, the URL for the comment by Jerry Henson, August 18, 2017 at 10:20 am, that describes the experiment for measuring CO2 emitted by soil cannot be found by Facebook, but, just in case it should work for you, here is the URL for Jerry Henson’s comment:

I have no problem with accessing Jerry Hanson’s comment via that URL.  The problem I have is that FB does not permit me to post a comment that contains the URL for either that comment or even the URL for the article that sparked the comment.  The article is this:

NASA's Secret Plan for Preventing another Sopervolcano Explosion

NASA’s Plan for Preventing another Sopervolcano Explosion

In case FB cannot find the URL for you either, here is the text of that comment:

Jerry Henson August 18, 2017 at 10:20 am


The whole carbon cycle does not depend on volcanoes alone to recycle the CO2 trapped in limestone deep in the earth. At great depth, heat, pressure and water convert the minerals to hydrocarbons, mostly natural gas.

The natural gas and other hydrocarbons rise, and some are trapped in rock layers and over time, the accumulation can be drilled and produced as oil or natural gas wells.

A substantial portion rise as natural gas and in the presence of adequate moisture and oxygen, microbes consume the natural gas, enriching the soil and oxidizing the hydrocarbons creating CO2.

This is easily observed by a simple test. I use an anemometer, thermometer, a 14″ stainless steel salad bowl, a 10 lb rock, and an inexpensive CO2 meter which allows for lengthy exposure readings.

On my last observation, the wind was less than 2 mph, the ambient CO2 reading was 404 ppm. I put the meter on the ground in an area which has dark brown topsoil approximately 12″ deep and the grass had been cut short. I then inverted the ss bowl over the CO2 meter and placed the 10 lb rock on top of the bowl.

12 hours later, I retrieved the meter and recorded the CO2 reading. It was 961 PPM.

This is a real test It is easy and inexpensive to replicate. Your readings will vary depending on the richness of your topsoil, and therefore, the amount of natural gas upwelling in your area.

In Kansas and most of the midwest, the CO2 reading will be very much higher than, for example, the area around Atlanta, Ga. where the soil is red, because the shield is very close to the surface and blocks most of the natural gas, thus little to no CO2 output.

The amount of CO2 contributed to the atmosphere in this manner is unknowable because on my property, the CO2 output varies by 300% in less than 1000 ft.

In deserts, the natural gas can pass into the atmosphere unoxidized because there is not enough moisture to support an adequate microbial culture, and the gas is then oxidized in the atmosphere.

Of course, I searched the Internet for articles describing just such experiments.  The very first one I found was this:

CO2 emitted by soil - Description of experiment, detailed to produce a biased conclusion

CO2 emitted by soil – Description of experiment, detailed to produce a biased conclusion

It stands to reason that the description of Jerry Hanson’s experiment is biased, too.  The question is whether either description is biased deliberately.  It would not be too hard to devise an experiment using either method that shows whether the origin of the measured CO2 emissions by soil are a consequence of geochemical origin or purely biological origin due to decomposition of plant material or emissions from roots.

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