Early Earth Was Encased In Ice, According To The Snowball Hypothesis

Dec 19, 2018

 


 

This winter, maybe you’re enjoying some snow or maybe you’ve decided to travel somewhere warmer. According to scientists who study early Earth, if conditions were that of hundreds of millions of years ago we would all be experiencing ice and snow, and lots of it.  

 

“Shall I reveal the story?” asked Carol Dehler, associate professor of geology at Utah State University. When we met, she was happy to discuss the theory of Earth’s early history.   

 

 

A rendition of Earth covered in ice.
Credit Chris Butler / Science Source

“Yes, It’s actually one of the main prongs of my work is testing what’s called the Snowball Earth," she said. "Hypothesis and the idea is that we find these rocks that looks like they’ve been moved by glaciers and we find these all around the world and remember continents were in different places back in time and this idea is that all the continents were hugging the equator and that the ocean and the continents were completely covered in kilometers thickness of ice so that if you were sitting on the moon and looked back on earth it would look like a snowball from space.”

 

 

Some of Dehler’s study sites include the islands surrounding the Great Salt Lake and the Bannack Range in southeastern Idaho.

 

“We can’t help but to study geology in Utah because it’s everywhere, it’s so beautifully exposed there’s young loose sediments that record lake Bonneville and those are lapped onto and faulted against very old sedimentary rock that tells us about Earth history almost a billion years ago to hundreds of millions of years ago to much younger stories, around 4 million years ago and yes 4 million years is young in geologic time, I know that sounds kind of weird,” Dehler said.

 

Additionally, Dehler has sites as far-ranging as Southeastern Australia, Namibia and even Sweden.

 

Read more about the Snowball Earth Hypothesis in the Journal Science.