How Volcanoes Froze the Earth (Twice)

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  • Published: 18 July 2019
  • Over 600 million years ago, sheets of ice coated our planet on both land and sea. How did this happen? And most importantly for us, why did the planet eventually thaw again? The evidence for Snowball Earth is written on every continent today.

    Thanks to Julio Lacerda and Franz Anthony from Studio 252mya for their wonderful illustrations. You can find more of their work here: 252mya.com/

    Special thanks to Judy Pu for answering our questions about Snowball Earth.

    Produced in collaboration with PBS Digital Studios: stms.pro/user/pbsdigitalstudios

    Super special thanks to the following Patreon patrons for helping make Eons possible:
    Katie Fichtner, Anthony Callaghan, MissyElliottSmith, The Scintillating Spencer, AA, Zachary Spencer, Stefan Weber, Ilya Murashov, Charles Kahle, Robert Amling, Po Foon Kwong, Larry Wilson, Merri Snaidman, John Vanek, Neil H. Gray, Esmeralda Rupp-Spangle, Gregory Donovan, الخليفي سلطان, Gabriel Cortez, Marcus Lejon, Robert Arévalo, Robert Hill, Todd Dittman, Betsy Radley, PS, Philip Slingerland, Jose Garcia, Eric Vonk, Tony Wamsley, Henrik Peteri, Jonathan Wright, Jon Monteiro, James Bording, Brad Nicholls, Miles Chaston, Michael McClellan, Jeff Graham, Maria Humphrey, Nathan Paskett, Connor Jensen, Daisuke Goto, Hubert Rady, Gregory Kintz, Tyson Cleary, Chandler Bass, Joao Ascensao, Tsee Lee, Sarah Fritts, Alex Yan

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    References: docs.google.com/document/d/1dRTf9IcH_1vA5SfEKbHhgwbYC6XL5mGImebexd_3ihk/edit?usp=sharing
  • Science and Technology Science and Technology

Comments • 1 163

  • Jeffrey wolynski
    Jeffrey wolynski  2 hours back

    The Earth froze over due to the time it took to exchange orbit with other stars. The Earth did not always orbit the Sun. Here is a video that explains how planets evolve: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CM0Hi0YwAJA&t=1s

    • Patrick Moore
      Patrick Moore  21 hours back

      global warming trigger: "Now, there have been glaciers on our planet before - in fact, we have some now"

      • somethin somethin
        somethin somethin  22 hours back

        How does weathering store c02?

        • Jess O.
          Jess O.  1 weeks back

          The longest snow day ever! Yay!

          • Shanine Jackman
            Shanine Jackman  1 weeks back

            I honestly learn better Stuff then I ever did in school watching these videos!!!

            Thank you PBS Eons & the ppl the ppl who work hard on these vids to give us this info!!!! 👏

            • ronin
              ronin  2 weeks back

              This is how the end of Game of Thrones should have been.

              • The Hiking gamer
                The Hiking gamer  2 weeks back

                Next video: how the humans scorched the earth ( first and last time).

                • Scott Jones
                  Scott Jones  2 weeks back

                  Another video to remind me how tough it will be to find life on other planets, since we have to find it at the right time.

                  • KHDZ Gaming
                    KHDZ Gaming  2 weeks back

                    I dunno I’d like to see more evidence then presented 🤷‍♂️

                    • Eduardo Freitas
                      Eduardo Freitas  2 weeks back

                      I wish they would just put the articles in the description but it's pretty easy to google stuff we see. Tons of scientific articles in these subjects.

                  • Zane Bliss
                    Zane Bliss  2 weeks back

                    Hoth phase.

                    • weibie Katz
                      weibie Katz  2 weeks back

                      Could the channel do a video about the evolution of the first true flowers?

                      • Dipak Singh
                        Dipak Singh  2 weeks back

                        Fantastic documentary! one question - Is it possible that another ice ball earth to happen in future? Or, the earth is going to get so warm in future that an ice ball earth or even an ice age can never occur?

                        • John DC
                          John DC  2 days back

                          Probably not, since the formation of a supercontinent and the increase of the sun's luminosity in the future will just raise global temperatures gradually.

                      • Candy Souvannarangsy
                        Candy Souvannarangsy  3 weeks back

                        Why is all I can think of during this video is
                        "Super-heated rocks from the Earth's core is surging to the crust, melting ice built up over thousands of years." 🙃🙃🙃

                        Also
                        Evidence: the equator froze
                        Scientists: no no no can't be... the Earth must've freaking flipped completely on its side

                        • Fishslap 33
                          Fishslap 33  3 weeks back

                          I would like to point out here that liquid water at earth's pressure levels can't really get much below 0C regardless,. So for sea life at least, conditions wouldn't have changed too much temperature wise. Arctic waters now were at basically the same temperature as sea water would have been then. And the ice that forms on the surface insulates the water below, which helps it stay liquid. Dark and low on oxygen, yes. Also slightly less water to live in, since a lot of it is ice. But other than that, not so different.

                          • Sheepboy25262
                            Sheepboy25262  3 weeks back

                            pbs for the win (ftw)

                            • Catherine Miranda
                              Catherine Miranda  3 weeks back

                              *not to hot and not too cold*
                              Me: UMMMMM well IT'S GETTING hotter and POLAR BEARS ARE going extinct cause of global warming 😢😢😢

                            • David Roberts
                              David Roberts  3 weeks back

                              Terrible, uninspiring presentation.

                              • Maanya Mahesh
                                Maanya Mahesh  3 weeks back

                                I loveeee spongesss!!!
                                and Eons too

                                • Not Human
                                  Not Human  3 weeks back

                                  Single cause theories are weak.
                                  More likely its was oxygen at high atmospheric levels, boom in life increased while decreasing carbon recyclers, earth either tilted or was hit hard enough by a commet to push it off its obrit, decreasing sunlight and temperatures starting a die off, more and more creatures died and killed most of carbon recyclers left, this run away reaction caused the earth to rapidly cool.
                                  It ended when oxygen couldn't be replaced, volcanic activity caused a melt somewhere and exposed large amounts of carbon mats, bacteria returned to eat it releasing more carbon then reversed it.
                                  Or life learned to survive off the deep seas with no where else to go and built up enough methane over time to be released.
                                  Life has away to survive if carbon, water, and some source of food to be tapped then piggybacks off of it to expand and adapt.

                                  • krutarth panchal
                                    krutarth panchal  3 weeks back

                                    Django to Stephen: Hey snowball!
                                    .
                                    Earth: umm. That hurts!

                                    • morelli tech
                                      morelli tech  3 weeks back

                                      In order for us to servive is for future societies to become transgendered, and luckily the US is spearheading this change in social norms. Please vote in 2020, and think about the future of our planet.

                                      • Weronika Erdmann
                                        Weronika Erdmann  3 weeks back

                                        I love Snowball Earth. That was so cool time.

                                        • Jeremy Bennett
                                          Jeremy Bennett  3 weeks back

                                          more

                                          • Phyrrus John Seno
                                            Phyrrus John Seno  3 weeks back

                                            TierZoo: Outside Beta ver. Patch Snowball Earth

                                            • Ace Kiwi71
                                              Ace Kiwi71  3 weeks back

                                              What's her name?

                                              • Tom Kast
                                                Tom Kast  3 weeks back

                                                But your whole assumption is that if life is here now, it must have lasted through snowball earth. That simply highlights that you do not know, nor accept that "life" can "start" somewhere. So please let me help. The earth itself can start. We believe it formed from star dust from another exploding star that (dust) was revolving around the sun. And a given form of "life" (e.g. prokaryotes) too can start. And it will start again in an infinite number of places. That is all common sense. But the key, that is missing here, is that "life" is not what you think it is, well, it is much more. In its greater definition, it actually has no "start" only evolution (no quotes, evolution is a very correct idea about life). Minerals precipitating is also life. Crystals growing is life. And there are natural logical subsequent steps, from there, leading to, RNA growing, etc... Just like some 8 billion years ago, the earth started growing, it is also alive. Then of course conversely "death" is also not that absolute end that it is defined as...

                                                • subhabrata das
                                                  subhabrata das  3 weeks back

                                                  OK ,I get it .The earth is old.

                                                  • heheheheheheheheheh
                                                    heheheheheheheheheh  3 weeks back

                                                    proof global warning isnt real


                                                    checkmate atheists

                                                    • AppleGamer
                                                      AppleGamer  3 weeks back

                                                      when will it happen again???

                                                      • Catwoman
                                                        Catwoman  3 weeks back

                                                        This could save us for the global warming.it can happen again,so buy extra socks..

                                                        • Jack Crooker
                                                          Jack Crooker  3 weeks back

                                                          If the continental plates were shifting so violently during that time period, I think their separation points would probably be where the ice was thin enough to support photosynthesis. The shifting would generate/release heat and constantly cause cracks to firm in the ice, after all.

                                                          • Carl Boucher
                                                            Carl Boucher  3 weeks back

                                                            Thank you very much for explaining this.. and it is exactly why we need the Federal Reserve to print out a couple of quadrillion. So we can give it back to the government in the form of taxes so we can colonize Mars.. I mean it's only logical right

                                                            • TheHelpfulBoi
                                                              TheHelpfulBoi  3 weeks back

                                                              Could you please make a video on pterosaurs? And about their origins, golden age....and their downfall. Here's how I think this event occurred. Pterosaurs evolved from archosaurs, splitting off from other groups about 245 MYA. Then, they began to glide through the canopy of the early Triassic, the skin membranes growing larger and more durable as time progressed. By the middle Triassic, the first true pterosaurs appeared, and could fly as well as glide. They, along with many others, survived the Triassic\Jurrasic extinction event, and some, now exploring open air and wide spaces, grew huge (Pterodon) while others remained small, and continued thriving in the dense woods. That is, until...the birds evolved. The birds were far better adapted than the pterosaurs were at living in dense forests (studier wing muscles, more resistance to damage from branches due to feathering, etc) and drove the smaller pterosaurs to extinction. The giant ones, however, continued to live in the open sky, growing larger as time went onwards. Until about 66.5 MYA (or 65.5 MYA). Queztacoatlus and Hatztergotrix (or how they're actually spelled) were the largest of all the pterosaurs. And they would be the last as well. The mass extinction event that came shortly after their arrival spelled their ultimate doom, and finally ended the reign of the flying reptiles, who will never be seen again. But with them gone, the birds now had free reign over the sky to themselves (and the flying insects, obviously) and diversified into the groups we see today (and some that are extinct).

                                                              • unlachy
                                                                unlachy  3 weeks back

                                                                Can you guys do an episode on the evolution of the kangaroo?

                                                                • Lee Martin
                                                                  Lee Martin  3 weeks back

                                                                  And in the end there was... pretty girl!

                                                                  • Eron Powell
                                                                    Eron Powell  3 weeks back

                                                                    Can you guys explain the "three metre gap" before the K-Pg boundary? I am wondering how much weight this gives to the idea that the K-PG extinction didn't occur as immediately as the Alvarez hypothesis would suggest.

                                                                    • OldeOne deESuhrim
                                                                      OldeOne deESuhrim  3 weeks back

                                                                      What is the target demographic for PBS Eons?

                                                                      • Ellorra Games
                                                                        Ellorra Games  4 weeks back

                                                                        You often ask us to put any topics we'd be interested in hearing about in the comments. I would like to know more about the gravitational anomaly discovered in Antarctica. When I first heard about this structure, I immediately made a mental connection between it and the eruption of the Siberian Traps on the other side of the planet. I have actually watched a program on YouTube that makes that connection, very briefly, but I'm not sure of the accuracy of this assumption. I would like to know more about this. Is it possible there is a connection? I'm pretty sure the anomaly has not yet been dated, so I'm sure it's not possible to draw a correlation between the two events. How big is this possible crater? If it is an impact crater, how large could the impactor have been? Has anyone done a computer model of this possible impact? If it is an impact crater, does the location at the southern pole effect the way ejecta would have been distributed? Is there any evidence of a large impact in geologic history that cannot be connected to an impact crater? I don't believe there is conclusive evidence of an impact event at the time of the Permian-Triassic extinction, but I would like to know more about that too. Thank you!

                                                                        • Kayden Carpenter
                                                                          Kayden Carpenter  4 weeks back

                                                                          You should do one on the history of how we tamed dogs

                                                                          • Guilherme Oliveira
                                                                            Guilherme Oliveira  4 weeks back

                                                                            PBS Eons: you are the MVP

                                                                            • Sonora Orchard
                                                                              Sonora Orchard  4 weeks back

                                                                              I'm excited for the sponges video!

                                                                              • Geology
                                                                                Geology  4 weeks back

                                                                                I can see how the build of volcanic CO2 would lead to the warming of the Earth, however, I'm having problems seeing how volcanoes could inject enough aerosols into the stratosphere for enough time to cool the Earth to a point of no-return per say. Stratovolcanoes can erupt and cool the planet for a few years, but not millions, for example: Mount Pinatubo, Mount Tambora, and Krakatoa. Flood basalts associated with rifting, effusive eruptions that *can* last for millions of years, do not inject aerosols into the stratosphere, hence why they are typically associated with warming and mass extinctions (ie. Siberian flood basalts, Deccan flood basalts, the Central Atlantic magmatic province...

                                                                                Is there evidence of a, or multiple, super volcano eruption(s)?

                                                                                Not entirely convinced of the cause of the onset of 'Snowball Earth'. Are there recent papers that you can share on the topic which lead your team to state the cause so definitively in the video?

                                                                                Cheers

                                                                                • Juanico Marco
                                                                                  Juanico Marco  4 weeks back

                                                                                  Prehistoric Marsupials of Australia and South America. I wish you could do that. 😀♥️

                                                                                  • Jayson Fung
                                                                                    Jayson Fung  4 weeks back

                                                                                    I wish I knew the names of the background music they use

                                                                                    • Andrew Baker
                                                                                      Andrew Baker  4 weeks back

                                                                                      Do a video on dinopithecus

                                                                                      • ラップせラン
                                                                                        ラップせラン  4 weeks back

                                                                                        Well... I'm off to work now.....

                                                                                        • Jakob Werbe
                                                                                          Jakob Werbe  4 weeks back

                                                                                          Can you guys do a video about the ancient drawings of dinosaurs that man made in egypt or other ancient cultures

                                                                                          • meesalikeu
                                                                                            meesalikeu  4 weeks back

                                                                                            do a show about life on earth mark I (before the moon)