Tiny bubbles of water found in quartz grains in Australia may hold the key to understanding what caused Earth’s first ice age, say scientists.
The Anglo-French study, published in the journal Nature, analysed the amount of ancient atmospheric argon gas (Ar) isotopes dissolved in the bubbles and found levels were very different to those in the air we breathe today.
The researchers say their findings help explain why Earth didn’t suffer its first ice age until 2.5 billion years ago, despite the Sun’s rays being weaker during the early years of our planet’s formation.
“The water samples come from the Pilbara region in north-west Australia and were originally heated during an eruption of pillow basalt lavas, probably in a lake or lagoon environment,” said author Dr Ray Burgess, from the University of Manchester’s School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences.
“Evidence from the geological record indicates that the first…
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