Did an asteroid impact cause temporary warming during snowball Earth?OPEN ACCESS 

Zhongwu Lan, Ross N. Mitchell, Thomas M. Gernon, Adam R. Nordsvan

Earth and Planetary Science Letters
Volume 581, 1 March 2022



• An asteroid impact during snowball Earth may have caused temporary warming.
• A well-dated impact crater is coeval with tuffs that were deposited in open ocean.
• Basins indicating meltback were positioned in restricted seaways with thin sea ice.”

“The ca. 717 Ma low-latitude Sturtian “snowball Earth” glaciation lasted ∼56 Myr. However, sedimentological evidence for transient, open ocean conditions during the glaciation appears to contradict the concept of a global deep freeze. We demonstrate multiple lines of geologic evidence from five continents for a temporary, localized sea-ice retreat during the middle of the Sturtian glaciation, which coincides with one, perhaps two, asteroid impacts, and arguably more terrestrial impacts as inferred from the lunar impact record. The well-dated Jänisjärvi impact (ca. 687 Ma) is synchronous with repeated volcanic ash falls whose deposition is most parsimoniously interpreted to indicate a partially ice-free ocean. Temporary greenhouse warming caused by the vaporization of sea ice can explain localized glacial retreat within restricted seaways between these continents, where ice flow would have been constricted and sea ice thinnest before impact.”