Geologische Rundschau

, Volume 54, Issue 1, pp 45–61 | Cite as

Critical evidence for a great infra-Cambrian glaciation

  • W. B. Harland
Aufsätze

Abstract

The hypothesis of a widespread glaciation (Varangian) just before the Cambrian is familiar because in nearly every continent there are several deposits long interpreted as tillites and generally correlated together. The evidence on which this hypothesis is based is examined critically under three headings.
  1. 1.

    The evidence for ice action in relation to alternative explanations of tillite-like rocks. Some criteria are inconclusive but others, or combinations of criteria, are decisive.

     
  2. 2.
    The evidence for the distribution of tillites in space, in relation to:
    1. (a)

      present distribution in the continents;

       
    2. (b)

      late Pre-Cambrian distribution of continents;

       
    3. (c)

      palaeo-latitudes determined directly or indirectly (i) by palaeomagnetism (ii) from the distribution of palaeoclimatic indicators;

       
    4. (d)

      possible distribution of land-ice and sea-ice.

       
     
  3. 3.
    The evidence for the distribution of late Pre-Cambrian tillites in time, in relation to:
    1. (a)

      the stratigraphical correlation of tillites;

       
    2. (b)

      the sequence and pattern of ice ages necessary to account for them;

       
    3. (c)

      their relation to basal Cambrian transgressions and to Metazoan life in the Lower Cambrian.

       
     

A limited amount of good evidence is necessary to test the hypothesis of an infra-Cambrian ice age. It is concluded that an ice age was sufficiently extreme to form marine tillites in the tropics. Earlier ice ages, possibly also in the “Eo-Cambrian”, may be recognized.

Zusammenfassung

Die Hypothese einer weitverbreiteten Vereisung (Varangian) unmittelbar vor dem Cambrium wird deswegen vielfach vertreten, weil nahezu auf jedem Kontinent mehrere Vorkommen bekannt sind, die seit langem als Tillite gedeutet und miteinander in Beziehung gesetzt wurden. Der Beweis, auf den diese Hypothese aufgebaut ist, wird hier unter drei Gesichtspunkten kritisch geprüft.
  1. 1.

    Hinweis für glaziale Entstehung in Beziehung zu anderen Deutungen der Tillit-ähnlichen Gesteine. Einige Kennzeichen sind nicht überzeugend, dagegen andere, oder Kombinationen von solchen, sind zwingend.

     
  2. 2.
    Hinweise für die Verteilung der Tillite im Raum, in Beziehung zu:
    1. a)

      der gegenwärtigen Verteilung auf den Kontinenten;

       
    2. b)

      der spät-vorkambrischen Verteilung der Kontinente;

       
    3. c)

      den Paläo-Breitengraden, die direkt oder indirekt (i) durch den Paläomagnetismus (ii) aus der Verteilung der paläoklimatischen Indikatoren bestimmt wurden.

       
    4. d)

      der möglichen Verteilung von Land-Eis und See-Eis.

       
     
  3. 3.
    Hinweise für die zeitliche Verteilung der spät-präkambrischen Tillite in Beziehung zu:
    1. a)

      der stratigraphischen Korrelation der Tillite;

       
    2. b)

      der Aufeinanderfolge und Ausbildung von Eiszeiten, die dazu vorauszusetzen sind.

       
    3. c)

      ihrer Beziehung zur basalen kambrischen Transgression und zum metazoischen Leben im tieferen Cambrium.

       
     

Eine beschränkte Anzahl von guten Beweispunkten ist notwendig, um die Hypothese einer infra-cambrischen Vereisung kritisch zu prüfen. Es wird der Schlu\ gezogen, da\ eine Eiszeit genügend stark ausgeprägt war, um marine Tillite in den Tropen zu liefern. Frühere Eiszeiten, wahrscheinlich auch im „Eo-Cambrium“, dürften bestanden haben.

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Copyright information

© Ferdinand Enke Verlag Stuttgart 1964

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. B. Harland
    • 1
  1. 1.Geol. DepartmentSedgwick MuseumCambridge

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