Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Geosonnet 14

New biostratigraphic data may
Help Cryogenian stratigraphy
The timing’s known from rhenium decay
The vase shaped fossils match from every sea.
Were they amoebas wearing armor plate?
Or protist tanks, cilia on the brink?
Eukaryotic arms race tempted fate
Destabilizing carbon source and sink.
Darwinian selection did not give
Thoughtful reflection, cool restraint, or mirth.
Organics buried, still they strove to live,
Turned pale blue dot into a snowball Earth.
  Three quarters of a billion years ago
  The first nuclear winter: “Let it go…”

Geology 42 659

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Chris Phoenix said...

So... If I understand what you and the paper are saying, it was probably carbon-sequestering life that was responsible for snowball earth, since these vase-shaped fossils are highly correlated with the time right before the transition.

I guess Gaia isn't so self-regulating, after all. There are periods of stability, stable basins in the configuration space - and it can look like life is contributing to stability - and then there's a transition to a new basin.

Well, if Lovelock is right about the Global Warming Global Desert, at least it won't be the first time life has screwed things up for itself.

Robert Frost's poem "Fire And Ice" seems appropriate here.

Chuck Magee said...

At the risk of stirring the pot, I think you are confusing the Gaia hypothesis with science.

Tthere are lots of events in earth history where evolutionary advances caused drastic change, and then more evolution allowed the survivors to radiate into that changed environment. These events are both interesting, and potentially poetic.