Paleontological Journal

, Volume 44, Issue 7, pp 827–838 | Cite as

On the early evolutionary stage of the geosphere and biosphere and the problem of early glaciations

  • N. L. DobretsovEmail author


The early evolutionary stages of the geosphere and biosphere are determined by three interrelated factors: (1) continuous cooling of the surface and interior (mantle) of the Earth (the mean temperatures of the mantle and surface decreased by a factor of 1.5–2 and 3–4, respectively; the mean heat flow was reduced by approximately one order of magnitude, and viscosity, by three orders); (2) continuous stepwise oxidation of the surface, which was particularly well pronounced from 3.8 to 1.8 Ga; and (3) periodic and correlated fluctuations of conditions in the geosphere and biosphere of varying extent and nature. The major boundaries of this evolution were about 4 Ga (the origin of rather thick and heterogeneous earth’s crust, the origin of life); about 3 Ga (appearance of a strong magnetic field, an increase in photosynthetic activity); about 1.8–1.9 Ga (appearance of an oxidized atmosphere, the first supercontinent, possibly, the first superplumes from the nucleus); and about 0.75 Ga (acceleration of subduction, “watering” of the upper mantle, elevation of continents with vast land masses, shelves, large rivers, and the first great glaciations). The significance and correlations of the earliest events (before and about 4 Ga) and events about 750 Ma are widely debated. In the Late Archean and Early Proterozoic (before 1.8 Ga), the biosphere was dominated by cyanobacteria, the dynamics and developmental peaks of which are marked by the presence of widespread stromatolite buildups in carbonaceous rocks (initially, mostly dolomitic matter). About 700–750 Ma, intense and frequent glaciations developed, marking the cooling of the Earth. The greatest glaciation apparently occurred about 640 Ma, which gave rise to the discussion of the model of the Snowball Earth. The emergence and evolution of skeletons in animals is sometimes thought to be connected with glaciations. These events are correlated and accounted for by great endogenous changes. One of the major events in endogenous history is the onset about 750 Ma of periodic manifestation of mantle flows (superplumes), which explain further periodicity of the biosphere evolution. In conclusion, extrapolation of future evolution and successive collapse of biosphere segments in the course of transformation of the Sun into a red star and warming of the Earth surface are proposed.

Key words

Geosphere biosphere early evolution early glaciations 


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© Pleiades Publishing, Ltd. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Joint Institute of Geology, Geophysics, and Mineralogy, Siberian BranchRussian Academy of SciencesNovosibirskRussia

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