Researchers suggest missing crust layer can be blamed on 'Snowball Earth'

Grand Canyon
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

An international team of researchers has found evidence supporting a theory that suggests a missing crust layer can be blamed on "Snowball Earth." In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the group describes the evidence they found and why they believe it supports their theory.

Earth scientists have debated the reason behind what they describe as a missing crust for over a century—in 1869, geologists noted that there appeared to be a missing layer of rock in the Grand Canyon. Samples showed a layer dating back 540 million years, and directly below it, a layer that was dated to 1 billion years ago. This posed the question: What happened in-between? That gap has been observed in other places on Earth, and has been named "the Great Unconformity." To explain the gap, scientists developed two theories—either there was a dramatic increase in sedimentation, or there was a large and rapid erosion event. In this new effort, the researchers claim to have found evidence that supports the latter theory.

The researchers suggest that the large erosion event was the development of what has been termed "Snowball Earth"—a period when the entire planet was completely covered with ice. They believe that as the ice receded, it took a whole layer of the crust with it, dumping it into the sea. If that was the case, logic suggests, testing the seafloor should show a large layer of rock from that time period. But no such layer has been found. The researchers suggest this is because the rock was pulled into the Earth's interior by the movement of the tectonic plates occurring at the time.

The evidence for this theory came in the form of crystals from the period in question—the researchers had isotopes of hafnium and oxygen that were consistent with such crystals that have undergone erosion under cold conditions. The data came from a database of information on 30,000 zircon crystals. The researchers note that can serve as time keepers.

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Meteorite bashing changed Earth's chemistry, study says

More information: C. Brenhin Keller et al. Neoproterozoic glacial origin of the Great Unconformity, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2019). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1804350116

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Citation: Researchers suggest missing crust layer can be blamed on 'Snowball Earth' (2019, January 3) retrieved 21 October 2019 from
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Jan 03, 2019
or there was a large and rapid erosion event

Earth crust displacement anyone? Given that the CIA for some reason decided to censor a book about it makes me believe it might be more plausible than we're led to believe.

Jan 03, 2019
For a start, @S, that referenced work is dafter than 'The Core', '2012' and 'Pearl Harbour' movies combined.

Its style would grossly offend most major religions, see its author hunted by geologists armed with carefully sharpened rock-hammers...

If you read beyond the hilariously hyper-apocalyptic opening, you'll find the physical claims are repeatedly falsified by the robust data that gave us 'plate tectonics'. A continent bridging the Atlantic ? Uh, no, the continent split, V-E-R-Y S-L-O-W-L-Y. See the magnetic reversals' stripes ? Or a vast continent in mid-Pacific ? No such luck. Just lots and lots of Oceanic crust. Zealandia is in the wrong place, subsided too soon.
etc etc.

And don't forget that Noah thing was totally plagiarised from the earlier Gilgamesh river flood...

Jan 03, 2019
750 million years ago greedy real estate developers flipped entire neighborhoods and stole the topsoil.

Jan 03, 2019
"... a theory that suggests a missing crust layer can be blamed on "Snowball Earth. .."

You should be ashamed of yourself for acting like that!
Your brother Mars & sister Venus are such perfect little planets & never misbehave.
I think your friend Luna is a bad influence on you!

What am I going to do with you?
If you continue down this path?
One say you will wake up to realize you are infested with humans!

Oh! The shame of it!
OurGalaxy has proudly boasted of being free of bio-squishies for aeons.
How will we ever hold our heads up in public, again?

According to the theosophist, theologians & EU woocultists
It should all be blamed on the Trickster Deity Coyote.
Who amused herself twisting the Earth inside-out like a Klein Bottle. Creating the Modern Hollow Earth.

Well, that's the most intelligible statement any of them have ever made!

Jan 03, 2019
If they would go by the facts alone instead of starting with their theories and distorting the facts to fit, they would have to acknowledge that the earth is young. There is nothing on earth or in space that supports a great age.

Jan 03, 2019
Huh? I guess I could agree with you Pat, except I'm certain you will take offense. So, take away & begone yec!

It has been Humanity's damn bad luck that the Living World Earth occurred so early after the BB. We are all Sooners!

As explained by my brilliant Theory of Stupid Design.

The deity & I like to joke around. The deity pokes fun at me for bring a materialist atheist. & I poke right back, twitting the deity for being a 13+ billion year old infant. Still just a baby.

Maybe in a few hundred billion years it might mature enough to have something interesting to contribute?

& maybe by then there will exist a quantity of Living Worlds as described in our fabulist books & cinema?

Jan 03, 2019
This could explain why the first animal ecologies, now known from Dickinsonia and Porifera to be Ediacaran from right after this era, are found to be deep water instead of shallow and close to the oxygenated atmosphere.

The first and the last comment before this peddles conspiracy theory, and have no science references, so not worth specific response. "What is claimed without evidence can be rejected without evidence." And of course they did not attempt to refute the actual observations and other science here but peddled opinion.

Jan 03, 2019
Snowball Earth what utter tripe.

Jan 03, 2019
Snowball Earth what utter tripe.

Please describe your evidence for such a statement. Also please show your alternate theory that also explains the mountain of evidence such a thing happened.

Otherwise, your comment is utter tripe.

Jan 03, 2019
The whole surface of the Earth has been subject to the most unimaginable levels of electrical, magnetic and acoustic plasma forces and fields, as have all other planetary bodies. Radio isotope dating is completely useless, yes, utter tripe.

Jan 04, 2019
This adds to mounting evidence of an extended ice age predating Cambrian epochs...
The real mystery is the lead-in to modern animal philogeny from Pre-Cambrian eras

To ignore science in this case is unwise, since the earliest scientific investigations of this period led to the first scientifically-based claims of intentional design and evolution

Jan 04, 2019
Oh deer Phil, Jon, Solon. Pat & Scrooloose
You are all ignoring the Span of Time & countless generations of biological failures to even try too pretend this cacophony of biology is a product of Intelligent Design. The EU woo is by self-definition blatant idiocy.

First you need to prove, not just opinionate "Whom designed your Intelligent Designers?"
& how does that Span of Time not conflict with your YEC ideology?

& scrooloose, it is not the CIA, NSA, DIA, HS, FBI or the JD that are in charge of suppressing books.

Per the original U.S. Constitution? That duty is split between the US Post Office & the Office of Weights & Measurements. As detailed in the agreement between Benjamin Franklin & Thomas Jefferson that established America's first secret police functions.

Sorry Bjorn, It is a compulsion for me to satirize the trolls & cultists. They are so deliciously stupid!

Jan 06, 2019
Well, at least its a theory that tries to explain what happened to the disappeared surface rock. W Brown's Hydroplate works as a theory. So, if the pressure emitted by Sol in a super flare, helium flashover, etc, enveloped the Earth actually shocking the surface into minute fragments, perhaps these were lofted high to become our rings?
I am beginning to think almost any theory is acceptable as long as we don't get bogged down into building on our current gravity theory.

Jan 06, 2019
Well, my favorite woomongering against the observed evidence for Gravitational Attraction?

Is the lunacy of those disputing the universality of Gravitational Attraction. By claiming that when the Full Moon is out & visible overhead? That it's gravity can lift them from the Earth's grip.

Now, when it is cloudy & the Moon is not visible?
The EUwooist believes that the Moon cannot exist at that point of time. Since it is invisible.
Also that invisible cannot be causing the tides. It's all electric currents don'tcha know?

Always seeking to be helpful.
I encourage the woonauts to prove their claims by jumping from a high building during the full Moon.

Yes, yes... I am an awful person. & yes, if they are too timid to jump? I am willing to give them a good shove over the edge.

What? Did you miss my admission that I am awful?

For all their bombast & woowhoey claims? They all are too coward;y for a public demonstration of their veracity!

Dang it!

Jan 06, 2019
The only problem I can see with this hypothesis is the lack of conclusive physical evidence --aka-- sediment from the time period in question. While it is true that this sedimentary oceanic crust layer would have been largely destoyed by subduction at subducting plate boundaries, this would only have occurred along a PORTION of all of the active plate boudaries world wide, leaving many completely unaffected, and therefore plentiful evidence for this should be easily available, in places as prosaic as the European Alps, let alone obvious ones such as the Pacific basin.

It seems like an excellent candidate for the Disconformity, but this claimed lack of evidence is quite strange, and requires further explanation to be convincing.

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