How Volcanoes Froze the Earth (Twice)

čas přidán 17. 07. 2019
Over 600 million years ago, sheets of ice coated our planet on both land and sea. How did this happen? And most importantly for us, why did the planet eventually thaw again? The evidence for Snowball Earth is written on every continent today.
Thanks to Julio Lacerda and Franz Anthony from Studio 252mya for their wonderful illustrations. You can find more of their work here:
Special thanks to Judy Pu for answering our questions about Snowball Earth.
Produced in collaboration with PBS Digital Studios:
Super special thanks to the following Patreon patrons for helping make Eons possible:
Katie Fichtner, Anthony Callaghan, MissyElliottSmith, The Scintillating Spencer, AA, Zachary Spencer, Stefan Weber, Ilya Murashov, Charles Kahle, Robert Amling, Po Foon Kwong, Larry Wilson, Merri Snaidman, John Vanek, Neil H. Gray, Esmeralda Rupp-Spangle, Gregory Donovan, الخليفي سلطان, Gabriel Cortez, Marcus Lejon, Robert Arévalo, Robert Hill, Todd Dittman, Betsy Radley, PS, Philip Slingerland, Jose Garcia, Eric Vonk, Tony Wamsley, Henrik Peteri, Jonathan Wright, Jon Monteiro, James Bording, Brad Nicholls, Miles Chaston, Michael McClellan, Jeff Graham, Maria Humphrey, Nathan Paskett, Connor Jensen, Daisuke Goto, Hubert Rady, Gregory Kintz, Tyson Cleary, Chandler Bass, Joao Ascensao, Tsee Lee, Sarah Fritts, Alex Yan
If you'd like to support the channel, head over to and pledge for some cool rewards!
Want to follow Eons elsewhere on the internet?
Facebook -
Twitter -
Instagram -


  • The longest snow day ever! Yay!

  • I honestly learn better Stuff then I ever did in school watching these videos!!! Thank you PBS Eons & the ppl the ppl who work hard on these vids to give us this info!!!! 👏

  • This is how the end of Game of Thrones should have been.

  • Next video: how the humans scorched the earth ( first and last time).

  • Another video to remind me how tough it will be to find life on other planets, since we have to find it at the right time.

  • I dunno I’d like to see more evidence then presented 🤷‍♂️

    • I wish they would just put the articles in the description but it's pretty easy to google stuff we see. Tons of scientific articles in these subjects.

  • Hoth phase.

  • Could the channel do a video about the evolution of the first true flowers?

  • Fantastic documentary! one question - Is it possible that another ice ball earth to happen in future? Or, the earth is going to get so warm in future that an ice ball earth or even an ice age can never occur?

  • Why is all I can think of during this video is "Super-heated rocks from the Earth's core is surging to the crust, melting ice built up over thousands of years." 🙃🙃🙃 Also Evidence: the equator froze Scientists: no no no can't be... the Earth must've freaking flipped completely on its side

  • I would like to point out here that liquid water at earth's pressure levels can't really get much below 0C regardless,. So for sea life at least, conditions wouldn't have changed too much temperature wise. Arctic waters now were at basically the same temperature as sea water would have been then. And the ice that forms on the surface insulates the water below, which helps it stay liquid. Dark and low on oxygen, yes. Also slightly less water to live in, since a lot of it is ice. But other than that, not so different.

  • pbs for the win (ftw)

  • *not to hot and not too cold* Me: UMMMMM well IT'S GETTING hotter and POLAR BEARS ARE going extinct cause of global warming 😢😢😢

  • Terrible, uninspiring presentation.

  • I loveeee spongesss!!! and Eons too

  • Single cause theories are weak. More likely its was oxygen at high atmospheric levels, boom in life increased while decreasing carbon recyclers, earth either tilted or was hit hard enough by a commet to push it off its obrit, decreasing sunlight and temperatures starting a die off, more and more creatures died and killed most of carbon recyclers left, this run away reaction caused the earth to rapidly cool. It ended when oxygen couldn't be replaced, volcanic activity caused a melt somewhere and exposed large amounts of carbon mats, bacteria returned to eat it releasing more carbon then reversed it. Or life learned to survive off the deep seas with no where else to go and built up enough methane over time to be released. Life has away to survive if carbon, water, and some source of food to be tapped then piggybacks off of it to expand and adapt.

  • Django to Stephen: Hey snowball! . Earth: umm. That hurts!

  • In order for us to servive is for future societies to become transgendered, and luckily the US is spearheading this change in social norms. Please vote in 2020, and think about the future of our planet.

  • I love Snowball Earth. That was so cool time.

  • more

  • TierZoo: Outside Beta ver. Patch Snowball Earth

  • What's her name?

  • But your whole assumption is that if life is here now, it must have lasted through snowball earth. That simply highlights that you do not know, nor accept that "life" can "start" somewhere. So please let me help. The earth itself can start. We believe it formed from star dust from another exploding star that (dust) was revolving around the sun. And a given form of "life" (e.g. prokaryotes) too can start. And it will start again in an infinite number of places. That is all common sense. But the key, that is missing here, is that "life" is not what you think it is, well, it is much more. In its greater definition, it actually has no "start" only evolution (no quotes, evolution is a very correct idea about life). Minerals precipitating is also life. Crystals growing is life. And there are natural logical subsequent steps, from there, leading to, RNA growing, etc... Just like some 8 billion years ago, the earth started growing, it is also alive. Then of course conversely "death" is also not that absolute end that it is defined as...

  • OK ,I get it .The earth is old.

  • proof global warning isnt real checkmate atheists

  • when will it happen again???

  • This could save us for the global can happen again,so buy extra socks..

  • If the continental plates were shifting so violently during that time period, I think their separation points would probably be where the ice was thin enough to support photosynthesis. The shifting would generate/release heat and constantly cause cracks to firm in the ice, after all.

  • Thank you very much for explaining this.. and it is exactly why we need the Federal Reserve to print out a couple of quadrillion. So we can give it back to the government in the form of taxes so we can colonize Mars.. I mean it's only logical right

  • Could you please make a video on pterosaurs? And about their origins, golden age....and their downfall. Here's how I think this event occurred. Pterosaurs evolved from archosaurs, splitting off from other groups about 245 MYA. Then, they began to glide through the canopy of the early Triassic, the skin membranes growing larger and more durable as time progressed. By the middle Triassic, the first true pterosaurs appeared, and could fly as well as glide. They, along with many others, survived the Triassic\Jurrasic extinction event, and some, now exploring open air and wide spaces, grew huge (Pterodon) while others remained small, and continued thriving in the dense woods. That is, until...the birds evolved. The birds were far better adapted than the pterosaurs were at living in dense forests (studier wing muscles, more resistance to damage from branches due to feathering, etc) and drove the smaller pterosaurs to extinction. The giant ones, however, continued to live in the open sky, growing larger as time went onwards. Until about 66.5 MYA (or 65.5 MYA). Queztacoatlus and Hatztergotrix (or how they're actually spelled) were the largest of all the pterosaurs. And they would be the last as well. The mass extinction event that came shortly after their arrival spelled their ultimate doom, and finally ended the reign of the flying reptiles, who will never be seen again. But with them gone, the birds now had free reign over the sky to themselves (and the flying insects, obviously) and diversified into the groups we see today (and some that are extinct).

  • Can you guys do an episode on the evolution of the kangaroo?

  • And in the end there was... pretty girl!

  • Can you guys explain the "three metre gap" before the K-Pg boundary? I am wondering how much weight this gives to the idea that the K-PG extinction didn't occur as immediately as the Alvarez hypothesis would suggest.

  • What is the target demographic for PBS Eons?

  • You often ask us to put any topics we'd be interested in hearing about in the comments. I would like to know more about the gravitational anomaly discovered in Antarctica. When I first heard about this structure, I immediately made a mental connection between it and the eruption of the Siberian Traps on the other side of the planet. I have actually watched a program on CS-tv that makes that connection, very briefly, but I'm not sure of the accuracy of this assumption. I would like to know more about this. Is it possible there is a connection? I'm pretty sure the anomaly has not yet been dated, so I'm sure it's not possible to draw a correlation between the two events. How big is this possible crater? If it is an impact crater, how large could the impactor have been? Has anyone done a computer model of this possible impact? If it is an impact crater, does the location at the southern pole effect the way ejecta would have been distributed? Is there any evidence of a large impact in geologic history that cannot be connected to an impact crater? I don't believe there is conclusive evidence of an impact event at the time of the Permian-Triassic extinction, but I would like to know more about that too. Thank you!

  • You should do one on the history of how we tamed dogs

  • PBS Eons: you are the MVP

  • I'm excited for the sponges video!

  • I can see how the build of volcanic CO2 would lead to the warming of the Earth, however, I'm having problems seeing how volcanoes could inject enough aerosols into the stratosphere for enough time to cool the Earth to a point of no-return per say. Stratovolcanoes can erupt and cool the planet for a few years, but not millions, for example: Mount Pinatubo, Mount Tambora, and Krakatoa. Flood basalts associated with rifting, effusive eruptions that *can* last for millions of years, do not inject aerosols into the stratosphere, hence why they are typically associated with warming and mass extinctions (ie. Siberian flood basalts, Deccan flood basalts, the Central Atlantic magmatic province... Is there evidence of a, or multiple, super volcano eruption(s)? Not entirely convinced of the cause of the onset of 'Snowball Earth'. Are there recent papers that you can share on the topic which lead your team to state the cause so definitively in the video? Cheers

  • Prehistoric Marsupials of Australia and South America. I wish you could do that. 😀♥️

  • I wish I knew the names of the background music they use

  • Do a video on dinopithecus

  • Well... I'm off to work now.....

  • Can you guys do a video about the ancient drawings of dinosaurs that man made in egypt or other ancient cultures

  • do a show about life on earth mark I (before the moon)

  • Ok before watching this video i do not understand the logic here....SO BASSICLY VOLCANOES ARE NOT HOT AND THEY FROZE EARTH.OK .. *TWICE* ??? oh well ima watch and find out HOW this happend..

    • Omg thnx

    • vulcanos can be so powerfull that they eject tons of dust and ash into the athmosphere blocking out the sunlight for years

  • can you do a video about the deep sea creatures from the prehistoric era

  • It's totally possible for something catastrophic like this to happen in the near future. I'd say today, but I think science is equipped enough to detect most civilization ending events prior to them occurring. The length of time prior to said events would vary, but I'm sure that some must be undetectable until they begin. Can we predict large solar flairs before they happen? Like longer than the 8 minutes it takes sunlight to reach Earth.

  • Good explanation, thanks!

  • I’m certain that we’re all related to tauntauns, rather then spongebob

  • I just watched one of your other videos and I have a question (if this is already a video I'm sorry): Why are so many of today's whales filter-feeders and why is this better than being able to eat larger prey?

  • Sometimes I wish I was an immortal eye, peering at the earth since the beginning of time. Watching all the changes that came to the ground and the life on it. Remembering it all, knowing the countless events which are a mystery to our modern life.

  • What the F__k is CELSIUS?! We do Fahrenheit in the USA! Why are people whining about global warming when the witch hunt against atmospheric 'pollution' took away our ability to reflect a greater percentage of sunlight back into space, allowing more of it to reach, and HEAT, the Earth's surface? THAT'S the reason for the warm up everyone is hysterical about, not realizing that a snapshot of a few hundred years is NOTHING in terms of this planet's weather patterns. (And they think a TAX will somehow fix it.)

  • As psittacosaurus is my favorite dinosaur, I may be biased, but as the species has over 400 specimens, I think that may be enough to warrant an episode on the species and what fossils can tell us based on shear number of sample size. Please do something to this effect, It is such an underrated dinosaur for how much information it has given us on fossil evidence alone.

  • My kids and I love your videos. The kids are more interested in the animals videos but I love them all. When I was little I remember watching many documentaries about our world with my grandpa and I hope to do the same with my kids.

  • Great episode and well narrated!

  • Is this going to happen again?

  • These hectic voices. This uninterrupted babble. Appalling.

  • Can you tell us about Aglaspids?

  • Can you guys make a video about titanoboas?

  • I find these videos incredibly humbling. It's a wonderful trip in each episode to think about the grand scheme of the long history of our planet. It makes me understand better how long the world has been around, and makes me feel therefore calmer about any problems I might have

  • Where’s the sponge episode

  • can you do a video about the evolution of intelligence?

  • A thousand million years ago? ...ok then.

  • One topic that might be interesting to make a video about is coral. Specifically, how coral was used to show the rotation of the earth is slowing and the coral gap. I think it would be interesting to hear about the major evidence supporting the main theories for the gap (The environment was not conducive for coral preservation or coral independently evolved two times and formed very similar structures).

  • Why is an American telling me degrees in Celsius? I have no concept of Celsius.

  • Weight did rodinia come before or after pangea????

  • amazing, this channel is so underated

  • Ice ice baby

  • This is so inspiring. It never ceases to amaze me how hard life can hold on!

  • So... If we find frozen Earth-sized worlds in the habitable zones of their stars, don’t immediately dismiss them as lifeless rocks?

  • I’m surprised you didn’t mention the possibility that life survived snowball Earth in hot springs.

  • Finally another video and my favorite speaker. 👍

  • Blessed content. Future video on the meter-scale problem or the Hadean Eon please??

  • how did primates get to the new world if it was already separated from Africa during their evolution?

  • Nice episode! I have some future ideas: Evolution of Mosasaurs Ginsu Shark (Like a main episode) American Lion Giganotosaurus (Mapusaurus is probably better) Dinosaur Pack Hunting

  • Could you do an episode on when insects first started living in colonies with a single queen?

  • Cannot believe so many people believe these fantasies.

  • You should do about dogger land 😁

  • Damn if only Mexico was there