Navigation Links
University of Leicester geologists demonstrate extent of ancient ice age

Geologists at the University of Leicester have shown that an ancient Ice Age, once regarded as a brief 'blip', in fact lasted for 30 million years.

They have published their findings and are due to discuss them at a public lecture at the University on Wednesday June 17.

Their research suggests that during this ancient Ice Age, global warming was curbed through the burial of organic carbon that eventually lead to the formation of oil including the 'hot shales' of north Africa and Arabia which constitute the world's most productive oil source rock.

This ice age has been named 'the Early Palaeozoic Icehouse' by Dr Alex Page and his colleagues in a paper published as part of a collaborative Deep Time Climate project between the University of Leicester and British Geological Survey.

The Ice Age occurred in the Ordovician and Silurian Periods of geological time (part of the Early Palaeozoic Era), an interval that witnessed a major diversification of early marine animals including trilobites and primitive fish as well as the emergence of the first land plants.

The Early Palaeozoic climate had long been considered characterised by essentially greenhouse conditions with elevated atmospheric CO2 and warm temperatures extending to high latitudes, and only brief snaps of frigid climate. However, during his doctoral studies in the internationally renowned Palaeobiology Research Group of the University of Leicester, Department of Geology, Alex Page and his colleagues Jan Zalasiewicz and Mark Williams demonstrated how the ice age was probably of much longer duration.

The team demonstrated that the Late Ordovician and Early Silurian Epochs were characterised by widespread ice formation, with changes in the extent of continental glaciation resulting in rapid sea level changes around the globe.

They compared evidence of sea level change from the rock record of ancient coastlines with evidence of sediments being deposited by glacial meltwaters or icerafting at high latitudes, and with chemical indicators of temperature in the strata.

The team showed that although the Early Palaeozoic Icehouse was of similar extent and duration to the modern ice age, the workings of the carbon cycle appeared markedly different to that of the present day. Unlike the modern oceans, the oceans of the Early Palaeozoic were often oxygen-starved 'dead zones' leading to the burial of plankton-derived carbon in the sea floor sediments. The strata produced in this way include the 'hot shales' of north Africa and Arabia which constitute the world's most productive oil source rock. In fact, the burial of organic carbon derived from fossil plankton may have served to draw down CO2 from the atmosphere to promote cooling during the Early Palaeozoic Icehouse.

Page commented: "These fossil fuel-rich deposits formed during relatively warmer episodes during the Early Palaeozoic Icehouse when the partial melting of ice sheets brought about rapid sea level rise. This meltwater may have bought a massive influx of nutrients into the surface waters, allowing animals and algae to thrive and bloom in the plankton, but also altered ocean circulation, creating oxygen-poor deep waters which facilitated the preservation of fragile, carbonaceous planktonic fossils. The deglacial outwash formed a less dense, low salinity 'lid' on the oceans preventing atmospheric oxygen penetrating to the seafloor. The absence of oxygen under such conditions served to shut down decay accounting for the preservation of these fossils."

Page added that the burial of oil shales in deglacial anoxia "may have been a negative feedback mechanism that prevented runaway warming, meaning that in the Early Palaeozoic Icehouse at least, processes eventually leading to oil formation may have been the solution to the greenhouse effect."


Contact: Alex Page
University of Leicester

Related biology news :

1. A study by the MUHC and McGill University opens a new door to understanding cancer
2. University of Pennsylvania researchers develop formula to gauge risk of disease clusters
3. University of Oregon researcher finds that on waters surface, nitric acid is not so tough
4. Bioengineers at University of Pennsylvania devise nanoscale system to measure cellular forces
5. Binghamton University researchers investigate evolving malaria resistance
6. Antioxidant to retard wrinkles discovered by Hebrew University researcher
7. Society for General Microbiology 161st Meeting, University of Edinburgh
8. Boston University biomedical engineers find chink in bacterias armor
9. KAUST and American University in Cairo to collaborate on research and academic development
10. UNH becomes first university in nation to use landfill gas as primary energy source
11. University of Minnesota study refutes belief that black men have more aggressive prostate cancer
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/16/2015)... 2015  Synaptics Inc. (NASDAQ: SYNA ), ... announced expansion of its TDDI product portfolio with ... and display driver integration (TDDI) solutions designed to ... TDDI products add to the previously-announced TD4300 ... resolution), and TD4322 (FHD resolution) solutions. All four ...
(Date:11/12/2015)... Nov. 12, 2015  Arxspan has entered into ... and Harvard for use of its ArxLab cloud-based ... tools. The partnership will support the institute,s efforts ... chemical research information internally and with external collaborators. ... for managing the Institute,s electronic laboratory notebook, compound ...
(Date:11/11/2015)... 11, 2015   MedNet Solutions , an innovative SaaS-based ... research, is pleased to announce that it will be a ... event, to be held November 17-19 in ... live demonstrations of iMedNet , MedNet,s easy-to-use, ... iMedNet has been able to deliver time and cost ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/1/2015)... Dec. 1, 2015 Researchers at the Broad ... for Brain Research at MIT have engineered changes to ... down on "off-target" editing errors. The refined technique addresses ... of genome editing. Science , Feng ... of the approximately 1,400 amino acids that make up ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... Dec. 01, 2015 ... of the "2016 Europe Cell Surface ... Technologies, Competitive Strategies, Opportunities for Suppliers--France, Germany, ... offering. --> ) has ... Europe Cell Surface Markers: Country Volume and ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... , Dec. 1, 2015  Symic, a clinical-stage ... the extracellular matrix (ECM), today announced that it has ... advance the company,s pipeline, including its lead candidates SB-030 ... and includes the participation by all existing major investors, ... brings the total capital raised by Symic to over ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... December 1, 2015 ... the  "2016 U.K. Virology and Bacteriology Testing ... 100 Tests, Supplier Shares by Test, Innovative ... their offering.  --> ) ... U.K. Virology and Bacteriology Testing Market: Sales ...
Breaking Biology Technology: