Viability of greenhouse gas removal via artificial addition of volcanic ash to the ocean

Jack Longman*, Martin R. Palmer, Thomas M. Gernon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Mitigating human contributions to climate change is a highly debated topic, as it becomes evident that many nations do not adhere to optional reductions in global emission. Substantial research is taking place into negative carbon technologies that actively reduce the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) via greenhouse gas removal (GGR). Various GGR methods have been proposed, from reforestation to ocean fertilisation. This article discusses advantages of an approach based on enhanced input of tephra to the ocean, to increase the drawdown of atmospheric CO2. Natural addition of tephra to the ocean results in preservation of enhanced organic matter in sediment. Hence, augmenting its delivery should raise the level of sequestration. Calculations indicate that offshore tephra addition could sequester 2750 tonnes of CO2 per 50,000 tonnes of ash delivered (a typical bulk carrier's capacity). The cost is estimated as ∼$55 per tonne of CO2 sequestered and is an order of magnitude cheaper than many proposed GGR technologies. Further advantages include: tephra addition is simply an augmentation of a natural Earth process, it is a low technology approach that requires few developments, and it may sequester carbon for thousands of years. Hence, offshore tephra addition warrants further investigation to assess its viability.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100264
Early online date12 Sept 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020
Externally publishedYes


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