Asteroid impact effects on Snowball EarthOPEN ACCESS 

Christian Koeberl, Boris A. Ivanov

Meteoritics & Planetary Science
First Published: 9 June 2019


“Several Snowball Earth periods, in which the Earth has been (almost) totally glaciated, are known from Earth history. Neither the trigger for the initiation, nor the reason for the ending of such phases, are well understood. Here we discuss some mechanical effects of the impact of asteroids 5–10 km in diameter on the Snowball Earth environment. An impact of this scale is the largest impact that is statistically predictable for 10–60 Myr time periods. The impact cratering itself (shock waves, impact crater formation) is not powerful enough to change the natural climate evolution path on Earth. However, the products of impact (mainly—water vapor) can be quickly distributed over a substantial part of the globe, influencing the global circulation (e.g., facilitating cloud formation). It is a question for future studies to confirm if such an event (which is possible statistically during this interval) may or may not have influenced the global climate of the Snowball Earth, and/or contributed to deglaciation.”