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Early Earth was colder than previously thought

Until now, descriptions of primordial Earth often recalled a bubbling hot tub.
By Brooks Hays   |   March 17, 2016 at 11:53 PM

BERGEN, Norway, March 17 (UPI) -- A number of scientists have previously suggested early Earth was relatively frigid. Now, there's evidence to support the position.

When an international team of researchers analyzed ancient volcanic rocks -- sourced from nearly 2.5 miles beneath the surface in South Africa's Barberton Greenstone Belt -- they found their composition recalled rocks from more recent ice ages.

"This may indicate that Earth, 3.5 billion years ago, experienced an extensive, perhaps global, ice age," researcher Harald Furnes, an earth science professor at Norway's Bergen University, said in a press release.

In addition to volcanic rock, researchers also recovered sedimentary deposits. Among the ancient condensed grains, scientists found gypsum, which only forms under high pressure and at cold temperatures.

"In other words, we have found independant lines of evidence that the climate conditions at this time may have been quite similar to the conditions we have today," said Furnes.

Furnes and fellow researcher Maarten de Wit, an earth science professor at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in South Africa, published their findings in the journal Science Advances.

Until now, descriptions of primordial Earth often recalled a bubbling hot tub. With new evidence of a more temperate prehistoric climate, such descriptions may be tempered.

"I think that this will force research to go further," Furnes said.

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