Scientists from the University of Aberdeen’s School of Geosciences have discovered evidence of a previously unknown ice age that took place during the planet’s evolution.
After analyzing geological evidence gathered after studying a plethora of rocks in Scotland, the researchers uncovered evidence of debris dropped from melting icebergs in lakes.
The rocks analyzed by experts in the Torridon area of the Northwest Highlands date from the period experts refer to as the boring billion; a period that took place from around 1800 to 800 million years ago.
Previously Unkown Ice Age during Earth’s Middle Ages
Also known as the Dullest Time in Earth’s History, and Earth’s Middle Ages, the period is characterized by relative tectonic stability, climatic stasis and stalled biological evolution; in other words, experts believe the boring billion was a relatively calm period in the evolution of our planet.
During this period, Earth’s oceans appear to have had low densities of key nutrients considered to be important for complex life, namely molybdenum, iron, nitrogen, and phosphorus, mostly because of the lack of oxygen and resultant oxidation required for these geochemical cycles.
However, the new data gathered by experts point to the possibility that the boring billion may not have been so boring after all, and that an ice age may have taken place during that time.
According to Professor Adrian Hartley, the led scientists of the study, it’s the first evidence globally for glaciation at this time in Earth’s history – proving it wasn’t such a boring billion after all”
“Throughout this so-called ‘boring billion’ the global climate was temperate and unchanged. Life was limited to algae in the ocean, the land was completely barren and oxygen was 10 percent of what it is now,” professor Hartley explained.
Professor Hartley revealed that previous to this study, there hadn’t been any evidence for climate change and evidence of ice ages during this period.
“Until now, no evidence for climate change had been discovered but our study has shown there was ice at Earth’s surface during this period,” professor Hartley explained.
The researchers led by Hartley analyzed silty lade sediments thought to date back around one billion years.
This allowed them to identify locations where pebbles may have fallen from melting icebergs forming impact features on the lake floor, which caused even older layers od sediment to deform.
“Similar studies have allowed us to reconstruct the recent glacial history of the Earth, but this takes us much further back in time to when Scotland was located at 35°S – the same latitude as South Africa,” professor Hartley revealed.