Much early discussion on the glaciations now dated as late Neoproterozoic (Cryogenian) emanated from the small geological community working in South Australia in the early twentieth century, when their age was regarded as Lower Cambrian. An initial glacial interpretation of long known ‘conglomerates’ by H. P. Woodward was made as early as 1884. Papers by Adelaide-based W. Howchin, were published in British, US and German Journals in 1908, 1911 and 1912 respectively, advocating floating sea ice as a major depositional mechanism. Sydney-based T. W. E. David was also significantly involved via the longstanding Glacial Research Committee of the Australasian Association for Advancement of Science. David publicised recognition of the glaciation at the International Geological Congress in Mexico (1906) where he also suggested that the entire earth might have been glaciated, hence foreshadowing the modern ‘snowball earth’ hypothesis. Objections to the hypothesis of a ‘Lower Cambrian’ glaciation were also raised at an early stage by Howchin's Adelaide-based colleagues. Howchin and his adversaries defended their opposing views in voluminous and fiery articles in the South Australian press in the period 1905-1912 during which both sides endeavoured to undermine their opponent's credibility. By 1907, David had also appreciated the importance of carbonate beds that succeed glacial deposition. R. Lockhart Jack recognised two major glacial episodes within the modern late Neoproterozoic as early as 1913.
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Research Article| June 08 2010
‘Snowball Earth’: The Early Contribution from South Australia
Earth Sciences History (2010) 29 (1): 121–145.
Barry Cooper; ‘Snowball Earth’: The Early Contribution from South Australia. Earth Sciences History 1 December 2010; 29 (1): 121–145. doi: https://doi.org/10.17704/eshi.29.1.j8874825610u68w5
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