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Thread: Snowball Earth Probably Had Warm Spots

  1. #1
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    Post Snowball Earth Probably Had Warm Spots

    Planetary geologists propose that our planet once had periods of extreme global freezing nicknamed the "Snowball Earth" eras. During these periods, they supposed, the planet's temperatures went so low that the oceans froze, and everything was covered in ice. ...

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    In other words, not a snowball.

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    Interesting to think what this might mean for a planet closer to the far edge of the habitable zone. Will they be likely to often enter snowball periods which would end when greenhouse gases from volcanism build up? Is that what happened to Hoth in the Empire Strikes Back? (Note to Star Wars enthusists: This is a retorical question.)

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    Quite possibly.

  5. #5
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    ....the planet's temperatures went so low that the oceans froze, and everything was covered in ice. ...
    Nothing a ten mile across asteroid collision couldn't fix. Look Ma! No scars.

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    Smile fireworks

    Quote Originally Posted by GOURDHEAD View Post
    Nothing a ten mile across asteroid collision couldn't fix. Look Ma! No scars.
    Gourdhead. I think a ten mile wide asteroid would not only melt the ocean, but leave a scar in the mud. The Barringer crater baby was about ~150 feet, or 50 meters across.
    http://www.barringercrater.com/science/

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    I think a ten mile wide asteroid would not only melt the ocean, but leave a scar in the mud. The Barringer crater baby was about ~150 feet, or 50 meters across.
    ...and made a hole almost a mile across.

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    There was at least one giant impact during this period, the Acraman event. Unfortunately it hit between two glacials, after the Marinoan and the Wilpenan.

    Jon

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    My wild guess of no scars is based on the asteroid losing velocity in the thicker colder atmosphere and then hitting an ice cover of several miles thickness in a temperate zone resting on a couple miles of liquid water. I agree that scars could have been left depending on where it hit. My fantasy is focussed on melting the ice not gouging the Earth.

    If this happened, unlikely as it would be, how fast would the Earth return to its mean (over the epochs) temperature?

  10. #10
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    Fimbulwinter

    Quote Originally Posted by GOURDHEAD View Post
    If this happened, unlikely as it would be, how fast would the Earth return to its mean (over the epochs) temperature?
    After the initial heating from a large impact, speculation is that Earth would enter a global winter due to sunlight blocking. I don't think there's enough initial heating to melt global ice sheets; maybe it would just be a hiccup in a snowball Earth epoch.

    But what if the impact produces huge followup volcanic activity, like the Siberian and Deccan traps? That might bring the Earth out of the deep freeze, although not quickly.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Mendenhall View Post
    After the initial heating from a large impact, speculation is that Earth would enter a global winter due to sunlight blocking. I don't think there's enough initial heating to melt global ice sheets; maybe it would just be a hiccup in a snowball Earth epoch.

    But what if the impact produces huge followup volcanic activity, like the Siberian and Deccan traps? That might bring the Earth out of the deep freeze, although not quickly.
    You are quite correct. The initial response to a large impact would be more cooling because of increase in cloud cover.

    As for post impact volcanism, I think that is now largely discounted.

    Jon

  12. #12
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    Wink

    maybe the hot spots were from volcanic activity

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