The nature and evolution of Earth’s crust during the Hadean and Eoarchean is largely unknown owing to a paucity of material preserved from this period. However, clues may be found in the chemical composition of refractory minerals that initially grew in primordial material but were subsequently incorporated into younger rocks and sediment during lithospheric reworking. Here we report Hf isotopic data in 3.9 to 1.8 billion year old detrital zircon from modern stream sediment samples from West Greenland, which document successive reworking of felsic Hadean-to-Eoarchean crust during subsequent periods of magmatism. Combined with global zircon Hf data, we show a planetary shift towards, on average, more juvenile Hf values 3.2 to 3.0 billion years ago. This crustal rejuvenation was coincident with peak mantle potential temperatures that imply greater degrees of mantle melting and injection of hot mafic-ultramafic magmas into older Hadean-to-Eoarchean felsic crust at this time. Given the repeated recognition of felsic Hadean-to-Eoarchean diluted signatures, ancient crust appears to have acted as buoyant life-rafts with enhanced preservation-potential that facilitated later rapid crustal growth during the Meso-and-Neoarchean.
- Programme Area 4: Mineral Resources