Did volcanism drive Earth into global glaciation?

Between about 720 million and 635 million years ago, Earth suffered two big chills. During these “Snowball Earth” episodes, geologists think the world’s oceans froze over and glaciers spilled from tropical coastlines. Scientists have previously suggested that intense volcanism, unleashed by the disintegration of the supercontinent Rodinia, plunged Earth into these global glaciations. New research now lends support to this so-called fire-and-ice hypothesis.

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Julia Rosen

Rosen holds a doctorate in geology and is a freelance science writer based in Portland, Ore. She has served as both an intern and an interim staff writer for EARTH, has also written for the Los Angeles Times and AGU’s Eos, and occasionally hosts 60-Second Science podcasts for Scientific American. Find more of her work at www.julia-rosen.com.

Friday, June 5, 2015 - 06:00