Possible Causes of Glaciations

  • Edward Peter Jacobus van den Heuvel
  • Peter Buurman

Abstract

Evidence of glaciation in the earth’s history is briefly reviewed and possible cosmic and terrestrial causes of climatic change are discussed. The late Tertiary-Pleistocene glaciations appear to belong to one large Ice Age, with a duration of over 7 million years, which is presently underway. Throughout this Ice Age parts of the polar regions have been continuously glaciated. The duration of this Ice Age resembles that of other large Ice Ages in the earth’s history (cf. Table 1). The only plausible cause of large Ice Ages seems to be a combination of continental uplift, mountain building, and thermal isolation of one or both of the poles, as suggested by Ewing and Donn. The large variations in mid-latitude glaciations during the Pleistocene, on a time scale of about 40,000 years, may have been triggered by insolation variations of the type calculated by Milankovitch. This is evidenced by the observed time correlation between insolation variations, oxygen isotope temperatures, and oscillations in sea level during the Pleistocene. The observed correlation between interglacial high sea levels and the precession on one hand, and the large-amplitude variations in isotopic temperatures and the tilt of the ecliptic plane on the other, seem to confirm theories in which the contributions of precession and tilt are given different weights (Broecker, 1966). A possible physical explanation for these different weights is suggested.

Keywords

Dust Radioactive Isotope Cretaceous Miocene Lithology 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1974

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edward Peter Jacobus van den Heuvel
    • 1
    • 3
  • Peter Buurman
    • 2
  1. 1.Sterrewacht “Sonnenborgh”, RijksuniversiteitUtrechtThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of Soil Science and GeologyAgricultural UniversityWageningenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Astrophysical InstituteVrije UniversiteitBrusselsBelgium

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