Partial melting of the Earth's mantle is a key process in the generation of crustal material and the formation of continents. Crustal samples record the generation of crust up to 4.4 billion years (Gyr) ago, yet the complementary record in the mantle extends to only 3.3 Gyr ago, with sparse evidence for differentiation occurring 3.9-4.1 Gyr ago. Here we use the Pt-Os isotope chronometer to show that a Hadean record of mantle depletion is preserved in Earth's oldest known ultramafic rocks, the Ujaragssuit Nunât intrusion of southwest Greenland. We identify two distinct age populations at approximately 4.1 and 2.9 Gyr. We suggest that the younger age population records a regional metamorphic event and the older one records mantle depletion. We also identify individual sample ages of up to 4.36 Gyr old, thus extending the record of large mantle-melting events into the Hadean. Furthermore, the preservation of Hadean model ages in Os-rich mantle-derived rocks supports the theory that re-enrichment of Os in the mantle during the Late Heavy Bombardment - after expected partitioning into the Earth's core - occurred at least 0.2 Gyr earlier than previously thought. This also implies that the Earth could have been habitable by 4.1 Gyr ago.
- Programområde 4: Mineralske råstoffer