Rocks reveal Scotland was frozen in a mini ICE AGE during the ‘boring billion’ era when scientists thought not much happened to the Earth’s climate
- Between 1,800 and 800 million years ago not much changed for Earth’s climate
- But scientists have now found evidence of a mini ice age during this period
- Shows the ‘boring billion’ years were not as uneventful as previously thought
Scientists have discovered evidence of a previously unknown ice age during a period of time known as the ‘boring billion’.
Rocks found near the village of Torridon in north west Scotland once formed part of icebergs in lakes, as glaciers dominated the Highlands.
Academics at the University of Aberdeen found that the rocks date back to between 1,800 and 800 million years ago.
This geological period has always been considered the dullest time in Earth’s history, as not much happened to the planet’s climate, tectonic activity or biological evolution.
Scotland would have been in a similar location to modern-day South Africa and the evidence points to a mini ice age, injecting excitement into an otherwise uneventful age.
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Scientists have discovered evidence of a previously unknown ice age in Scotland (pictured, site of the study) during a period of time known as the ‘boring billion’ where not much was thought to have changed in Earth’s climate
WHAT IS THE BORING BILLION?
The ‘boring billion’ is a period of time where Earth’s climate was very calm.
It is thought that between 1,800 and 800 million years ago very little changed.
The most advanced life on Earth was algae and the oxygen levels were far lower than they are today.
but it is thought no severe ice ages or volcanic activity occurred, allowing preservation of the status quo for approximately a billion years.
The study, published in the Scottish Journal of Geology, claims the ice age should be added to the others that have littered Europe’s early history.
Professor Adrian Hartley, who led the study along with colleagues from the University of Aberdeen’s School of Geosciences, said: ‘In Earth’s middle ages it is thought that not very much happened on the planet.
‘Throughout this so-called ‘boring billion’ the global climate was temperate and unchanged.
‘Life was limited to algae in the ocean, the land was completely barren and oxygen was 10 per cent of what it is now.
‘Until now, no evidence for climate change had been discovered but our study has shown there was ice at Earth’s surface during this period.
Evidence from rocks found near the Scottish village of Torridon revealed debris dropped from melting icebergs in lakes
Professor Adrian Hartley, who led the study in the Scottish Highlands (pictured) from the University of Aberdeen’s School of Geosciences, found evidence the ‘boring billion’ was not as quiet as previously expected
‘We made the discovery by analysing silty lake sediments that are a billion years old, allowing us to identify locations where pebbles had fallen from melting icebergs and had formed impact features on the lake floor, deforming even older layers of sediment.
‘Similar studies have allowed us to reconstruct the recent glacial history of the Earth, but this takes us much further back in time to when Scotland was located at 35°S – the same latitude as South Africa.
‘It’s the first evidence globally for glaciation at this time in Earth’s history – proving it wasn’t such a boring billion after all.’
There have been at least five documented major ice ages in Earth’s history, with many smaller ones as well.
The most recent Ice Age occurred during the Pleistocene Epoch between 2.6 million and 11,700 years ago.