Role of Plumes and Plates in the Construction and Preservation of Hadean-Archean Continental Nuclei

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Paul A Mueller, Univ Florida-Geology Dept, Gainesville, FL, United States, David W Mogk, Montana State Univ, Bozeman, MT, United States, Darrell Henry, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA, United States and Joseph Wooden, Stanford University, Los Altos Hills, CA, United States
Crust and lithosphere formed in modern island arc and plume environments exhibit strong contrasts in both structure and composition compared to present day continents. The limited inventory of Hadean and Eoarchean material available for study, the possibility that the preserved record is biased, and the lack of continental crust on other terrestrial planets, make it difficult to determine the nature of the first continental nuclei. Nonetheless, certain first order similarities in preserved Archean continental crust suggest that these continental nuclei (microcontinents or protocontinents) allow us to establish limits on processes of early crustal genesis Based on geochemical (elemental and isotopic), geochronologic, and petrologic data from Paleo- to Mesoarchean rocks preserved in the northern Wyoming Province, we propose a multi-stage evolution of a continental nucleus that reflects a secular change from plume- to plate-related processes. 1) 4.0-4.1 Ga: mafic and ultramafic magmas formed a section of thickened lithosphere over a zone of upwelling primitive mantle; 2) 3.6-4.0 Ga: continuity of magmatism recorded in detrital zircons does not favor growth by episodic subduction; Hf isotopes in zircon suggest extensive crustal recycling with some juvenile additions; 3) 3.6-3.2 Ga: a major crust-forming interval with infusion of new crust derived from more depleted sources, including a hydrous, garnet-bearing source; 4) intervening granulite facies metamorphism of supracrustal rocks and orthogneisses, clockwise PTt path, coupled with ductile deformation (~ 750-800oC and 6-8 Kbar); 5) ~2.8-2-9 Ga: a second period of major magmatism resulted from subduction and a volcanic arc was built on the older 3.2-3.5 Ga crust. This geochemical record indicates that the earliest crust formed through diapiric upwelling and anhydrous melting of primitive mantle in a plume setting, followed by recycling of this crust with only limited juvenile additions in the Paleoarchean; in the Mesoarchean the tectonic regime changed to a plate environment that produced two major crust-forming events in a volcanic arc setting—the first involved primarily juvenile additions from the mantle (3.5-3.2 Ga interval) and the second (2.8-2.9 Ga) included melting of a deep mafic source and recycling of sediments similar to Phanerozoic arcs.