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Document type
Journal articles

Document subtype
Full paper

Weak tides during Cryogenian glaciations

Participants in the publication
J. A. Mattias Green (Author)
Hannah S. Davies (Author)
Instituto Dom Luiz (IDL), Faculdade de Ciências, Universidade de Lisboa, Campo Grande, 1749–016, Lisboa, Portugal
Joao C. Duarte (Author)
Dep. Geologia
Dep. Geologia
IDL - Instituto Dom Luiz
Jessica R. Creveling (Author)
Christopher Scotese (Author)

The severe “Snowball Earth” glaciations proposed to have existed during the Cryogenian period (720 to 635 million years ago) coincided with the breakup of one supercontinent and assembly of another. Whereas the presence of extensive continental ice sheets predicts a tidally energetic Snowball ocean due to the reduced ocean depth, the supercontinent palaeogeography predicts weak tides because the surrounding ocean is too large to host tidal resonances. Here we show, using an established numerical global tidal model and paleogeographic reconstructions, that the Cryogenian ocean hosted diminished tidal amplitudes and associated energy dissipation rates, reaching 10–50% of today’s rates, during the Snowball glaciations. We argue that the near-absence of Cryogenian tidal processes may have been one contributor to the prolonged glaciations if these were near-global. These results also constrain lunar distance and orbital evolution throughout the Cryogenian, and highlight that simulations of past oceans should include explicit tidally driven mixing processes.

Date of Publication

Where published
Nature Communications

Publication Identifiers
ISSN - 2041-1723

Springer Science and Business Media LLC


Document Identifiers


J. A. Mattias Green, Hannah S. Davies, Joao C. Duarte, Jessica R. Creveling, Christopher Scotese, (2020). Weak tides during Cryogenian glaciations. Nature Communications, 11, ISSN 2041-1723. eISSN .

J. A. Mattias Green, Hannah S. Davies, Joao C. Duarte, Jessica R. Creveling, Christopher Scotese, "Weak tides during Cryogenian glaciations" in Nature Communications, vol. 11, 2020. 10.1038/s41467-020-20008-3

@article{47627, author = {J. A. Mattias Green and Hannah S. Davies and Joao C. Duarte and Jessica R. Creveling and Christopher Scotese}, title = {Weak tides during Cryogenian glaciations}, journal = {Nature Communications}, year = 2020, volume = 11 }