Early Earth Felsic Crust Formation: Insights from Numerical Modelling of High-MgO Archaean Basalt Partial Melting

Friday, 18 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Nicolas Riel Jr, ISTerre Institute of Earth Sciences, Saint Martin d'Hères, France
The Tonalite-Trondhjemite-Granodiorite series (TTGs) represent the bulk of the felsic continental crust that formed between 4.4 and 2.5 Ga and is preserved in Archaean craton (3.8-2.5 Ga). It is now recognized that the petrogenesis of TTG series derives from an hydrous mafic system at high pressure. However, the source of the early TTGs (3.5-3.2 Ga) have not been preserved and its characteristics are still debated. In this study we use thermodynamical modelling coupled with two-phase flow to investigate the products of partial melting of high-MgO primary mafic crust. Our model setup is made of a 45-km thick hydrated mafic crust and is heated above the solidus from 50 to 200°C. To explore the effects of melt-rock interactions during melt transfer (via two-phase flow), the melt composition is modelled either in thermodynamic equilibrium with the rock or in thermodynamic disequilibrium. Our modelling results show that partial melting of hydrous high-MgO metabasalt crust can produce significant volumes of felsic melt. The average composition of these melts is SiO2-rich > 62%, Mg# = 40-50, Na2O ~6%, MgO = 0.5-1% which is consistent with the composition of TTGs. The residual rock after melt segregation is composed of olivine + garnet + pyroxene which is in agreement with Archaean eclogites found in mantle xenoliths of Archaean cratons. Moreover, the depleted residual rock is denser than the mantle and is likely to be recycled in the mantle. We show that the early felsic crust with a TTGs signature could have been formed by partial melting of high-MgO hydrated metabasaltic crust, and propose that plume-related activity and/or rapid burial due to high volcanic activity are likely geodynamic conditions to generate an early felsic crust.