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Beyond Earthly Skies

Snowball Earth: A Frozen Planet

1 Sep 2013, 22:00 UTC
Snowball Earth: A Frozen Planet
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

Some say the world will end in fire,Some say in ice.From what I’ve tasted of desireI hold with those who favor fire.But if it had to perish twice,I think I know enough of hateTo say that for destruction iceIs also greatAnd would suffice.- Robert Frost, Fire and Ice (1923)Rodinia is the name of a supercontinent that existed during the early Neoproterozoic era. It formed around 1100 Mya and involved the assembly of virtually all continental masses known to exist on Earth at that time. Rodinia was entirely barren since it existed at a time before life colonized dry land. Nevertheless, the continental margins of Rodinia may have played an important role in the development of life from ocean to land. Continental crust is considerably thicker than oceanic crust and the existence of a supercontinent insulated the underlying mantle. This fostered the development of a mantle superplume beneath Rodinia and eventually led to widespread continental rifting that resulted in the breaking up of Rodinia between 800 to 600 Mya (Meert and Torsvik, 2003).Figure 1: Palaeogeographic reconstruction of the Rodinia supercontinent. The model posits two rifting events, one along the present-day western margin of Laurentia between 800 to 700 Mya, and a ...

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