The Huronian glaciation (or Makganyene glaciation) was a glaciation that extended from 2400 Mya to 2100 Mya (~300 million years), during the Siderian and Rhyacian periods of the Paleoproterozoic era. The Huronian glaciation followed after the Great Oxygenation Event (GOE), a time when increased atmospheric oxygen decreased atmospheric methane.
It is the oldest known ice age, occurring at a time when only simple, unicellular life existed on Earth.
It is possible that there were multiple contributing factors.
As the Sun was notably weaker at the time, the Earth's climate may have relied on methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, to maintain surface temperatures above freezing. The Huronian glaciation occurred at around the time the earth became aerobic, the oxygen catastrophe. This rise of oxygen resulted in the elimination of methane in the atmosphere, which in turn could have led to decreased temperatures.
Drawdown of atmospheric carbon dioxide has also been suggested. CO2 levels, also a greenhouse gas, could have been reduced due to increased silicate weathering of fresh basaltic surfaces or due to a 250 million year lull in volcanic activity reducing the amount of released CO2.
Finally, the placement of the continental landmasses (a probable cause of the Cryogenian glaciation), and the Earth's orbit around the Sun may have been contributing factors.
|Paleoproterozoic Era||Mesoproterozoic Era||Neoproterozoic Era|
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