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'Boring billion' theory rocked by boffin after Torridon probe

By Hector MacKenzie

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Torridon 1
Torridon 1

A PERIOD in Earth’s history dubbed the “boring billion” may not have been quite so boring after all – and the rethink is all thanks to evidence unearthed in Wester Ross.

Evidence has been uncovered in the rocks of Torridon for a previously unknown ice age sometime between 1800 million and 800 million years ago.

Geologists have often dubbed the period the “boring billion” as it was thought to have been a relatively calm period in the history of the Earth, and also coincided with a period when life was only single celled organisms.

Scientists from the University of Aberdeen uncovered the evidence, which was found when they analysed rocks in Torridon and spotted signs of debris dropped from melting icebergs in lakes.

Professor Adrian Hartley, who led the study, said: “It’s the first evidence globally for glaciation at this time – proving it wasn’t such a boring billion after all.

Professor Adrian Hartley
Professor Adrian Hartley

“Throughout this so-called ‘boring billion’ the global climate was temperate and unchanged. Life was limited to algae in the ocean, the land was completely barren and oxygen was 10 per cent of what it is now. Until now, no evidence for climate change had been discovered but our study has shown there was ice at Earth’s surface during this period.”

At the time of the newly-discovered ice age Scotland was located at 35°S – the same latitude as South Africa.

Torridon's twin town is really out of this world!

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