Scientists suggest volcanic eruptions formed Snowball Earth
Monday, March 20, 2017, 6:02 - A new theory from scientists at Harvard University posits that atmospheric sulfur resulting from volcanic activity may have led to the Earth’s first and largest ever planetary freezing.
Earth became covered by ice glaciers around 700 million years ago, notes a Harvard news release.
Researchers theorize that this event was caused by 10 years of eruptions from volcanoes that spanned 2,000 miles across an equatorial landmass. They say these eruptions could have plied the atmosphere with enough sulfur dioxide, a light reflecting gas, to induce radical alterations to Earth’s climate.
The study was published last month the in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
(A trail of smoke can be seen from the 2013 eruption of the Pavlof volcano, which spewed an ash cloud 20,000 feet into the atmosphere that traveled southeastward over the North Pacific Ocean. The volcanos that may have contributed to snowball Earth spanned almost 2000 miles and erupted continuously for years. Image courtesy of NASA)
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Sources: Reuters - Geophysical Research Letters, Harvard, Dr. Francis McDonald’s website, New Atlas