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Tropical tectonics may have triggered earlier ice age

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The Earth's climate has been shown to grow greatly on geological schedules, which fluctuate between clear periods of icing and long tensions of more cleavage temperatures. The question of what ran these periodic temperature cycles has long fascinated researchers. Scientists have suggested that flat tectonic activity in the tropics can actually be a critical part of what drives the ice age. To understand why we need to talk about stones.

One of the great temperature-impacting geological cycles on earth is known as the carbon-silicate cycle. Stones such as calcium and magnesium can sequester carbon efficiently in a process called chemical weather. The researchers' theory is that the subduction of oceanic plates in the tropics drove long sutures – contact areas between the plates – higher, which meant that the seabed had come into contact with the air for the first time. These areas of former oceanic crust are known as ophiolites. The reason why this is important in the tropics is especially that geographically speaking, SE Asia contains a much larger proportion of weatherable rocks than other places where this type of error has occurred. The researchers estimate that 10-20 percent of the land area accounts for 50-75 percent of CO 2 sequestration via confusion.

The idea that simple chemical processes between stone and air could constitute an entire ice age may seem imaginative, but there is a precedent for this type of interaction. The band of iron formations found all over the world is evidence of a similar kind of interaction between oxygen and iron and may have spelled out the major oxygen event until the amount of iron in the Earth's oceans could no longer absorb the amount of oxygen produced by photosynthetic cyanobacteria.


According to the researchers, there is a corresponding "suture" where two tectonic plates collided which correspond to three major historical time periods where we know of an ice age occurrence ed. These sutures were all large, 10,000 km or more, and located in the tropics, where the largest supplies of weatherable material were located. These massive upliftments exposed so much new material to the air, the amount of CO 2 in the atmosphere dropped over millions of years, leading to a new ice age.

The three Ice Age is the Late Ordovician (455-440 million years ago), Permo-Carbonifer (335-280 million years ago) and Cenozoic (35 million years ago – present). But there is no sign of any glacial period in the historical record that corresponds to a large non-tropical suture. It is the elevation of rocks that can sequester coal, specifically those associated with ice age.

The authors write:

While we acknowledge that volcanic gasification must have changed over time, and that organic carbon burial also had an impact on long-term climate, our analysis suggests that global weather capability has brought about the pre-control of the Earth's climate state. In particular, colloquial contact collisions in the tropics, such as the Indonesian orogenic system today, are timeless on geological schedules, and when they exit the tropics or upgrades and topography is removed, the earth returns to a non-iced climate state. Thus, our model stands for both the initiation and cessation of ice age.

There have even been suggestions for grinding up large amounts of ophiolites and using their ability to chemically collide carbon dioxide to compensate for human CO emissions. Unfortunately, the time constraints over which this process usually makes this concept very unlikely to scale. If plate tectonics produce meaningful cooling trends on earth, it still took millions of years for the process to play out. Humanity simply does not have that kind of time.

Feature image courtesy of Wikipedia

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