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As the Earth formed, it went through cycles of essentially hotter and colder periods. Extremely volcanic times and ice ages, in feedback loops contributing to one another. CO2 swinging from high to low back and forth, all the while islands and landforms are evolving. In some ways it's like a ripple effect moving through the Earth as it came to be the shape it is today, still with an evolving climate and form.

How many extreme temperature and activity cycles has the Earth (or at least the surface of it) gone through since its formation? I understand there might be some uncertainty since this is over the scale of hundreds of millions of years. If the question can be answered clearer within a limited geological time period please do apply that boundary and answer for a more recent time period.

I'd also be interested to learn about any kinds of measurements or cutting edge topics or research questions that would help us learn about these cycles in the past.

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    $\begingroup$ What do you count as extreme? $\endgroup$ – bon Apr 14 '18 at 9:25
  • $\begingroup$ @bon great question but I don't know the threshold. As explained in a comment below: I acually don't know how to define high volcanic activity. What makes an ice age more than just the glaciers we have today? I'm under the impression each ice age was more or less paired with a 'hot age' where there were major eruptions that broke/pushed back glaciers and warmed the atmosphere, eventually leading back to a cold period. I know I'm missing understanding about the nuances and other factors in between these cycles and am hoping to learn more about that through this question & follow up studies. $\endgroup$ – cr0 Apr 14 '18 at 22:59
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As I finished writing this question I did find one answer. I'll ask anyway and see if anyone has more info to contribute.

From the Wikipedia page on Ice Ages, there's this Timeline of life including a list of ice ages on left side.

Timeline of life including list of ice ages on left side

Based on this, there were 7 ice ages in the past 4.5 billion years (apx age of the Earth). Were there also 7 major periods of high volcanic activity?

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    $\begingroup$ Not quite accurate. For example, the "Quaternary ice age" isn't only one glaciation, but a series of several glaciations. Also, how would you define "high volcanic activity"? $\endgroup$ – Gimelist Apr 14 '18 at 6:21
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    $\begingroup$ then you have things like impact events, the oxygen crisis and other one off events. $\endgroup$ – John Apr 14 '18 at 14:01
  • $\begingroup$ I acually don't know how to define high volcanic activity. I'm under the impression each ice age was more or less paired with a 'hot age' where there were major eruptions that broke/pushed back glaciers and warmed the atmosphere, eventually leading back to a cold period. I know I'm missing understanding about the nuances and other factors in between these cycles and am hoping to learn more about that through this question & follow up studies. $\endgroup$ – cr0 Apr 14 '18 at 22:58

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