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Scientists Debate GaiaThe Next Century$
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Stephen H. Schneider, James R. Miller, Eileen Crist, and Penelope J. Boston

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780262194983

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262194983.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM MIT PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.mitpress.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright The MIT Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MITSO for personal use.date: 26 June 2022

Gaia and Glaciation

Gaia and Glaciation

Lipalian (Vendian) Environmental Crisis

(p.113) (p.114) (p.115) 10 Gaia and Glaciation
Scientists Debate Gaia

Mark A. S. McMenamin

The MIT Press

The Lipalian or Vendian Period, which occurred 600–541 million years ago, begins and ends with global environmental perturbations. It begins as the worst glaciation on record draws to a close. It ends with a sudden appearance of abundant skeletonized animals that mark the beginning of Cambrian ecology. Several key events in Earth history occur during the Lipalian, bracketed between severe glaciation and the initiation of modern marine ecosystems. The most notable of these events is the appearance of an unusual and conspicuous marine biota, the “Garden of Ediacara.” This biota appears to have characteristics inherited from its sojourn beneath the ice. This chapter examines the role the cryophilic biota, consisting largely of cyanobacteria and chryosphyte and chlorophyte algae, may have played in ending the great ice age. It is hypothesized here that these microbes induced albedo reductions and other changes that rapidly improved global climate.

Keywords:   global environmental perturbations, Vendian Period, glaciations, Cambrian ecology, modern marine ecosystems, Garden of Ediacara, ice age, global climate

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