The record of the continental lithosphere is patchy and incomplete; no known rock is older than 4.02 Ga, and less than 5 of the rocks preserved are older than 3 Ga. In addition, there is no recognizable mantle lithosphere from before 3 Ga. We infer that there was lithosphere before 3 Ga and that 3 Ga marks the stabilization of blocks of continental lithosphere that have since survived. This was linked to plate tectonics emerging as the dominant tectonic regime in response to thermal cooling, the development of a more rigid lithosphere, and the recycling of water, which may in turn have facilitated plate tectonics. A number of models, using different approaches, suggest that at 3 Ga the volume of continental crust was 70 of its present-day volume and that this may be a minimum value. The continental crust before 3 Ga was on average more mafic than that generated subsequently, and this pre-3 Ga mafic new crust had fractionated LuHf and SmNd ratios as inferred for the sources of tonalite-trondhjemite-granodiorite and later granites. The more intermediate composition of new crust generated since 3 Ga is indicated by its higher RbSr ratios. This change in composition was associated with an increase in crustal thickness, which resulted in more emergent crust available for weathering and erosion. This in turn led to an increase in the Sr isotope ratios of seawater and in the drawdown of CO2. Since 3 Ga, the preserved record of the continental crust is marked by global cycles of peaks and troughs of U-Pb crystallization ages, with the peaks of ages appearing to match periods of supercontinent assembly. There is increasing evidence that the peaks of ages represent enhanced preservation of magmatic rocks in periods leading up to and including continental collision in the assembly of supercontinents. These are times of increased crustal growth because more of the crust that is generated is retained within the crust. The rates of generation of continental crust and mantle lithosphere may have remained relatively constant at least since 3 Ga, yet the rates of destruction of continental crust have changed with time. Only relatively small volumes of rock are preserved from before 3 Ga, and so it remains difficult to establish which of these are representative of global processes and the extent to which the rock record before 3 Ga is distorted by particular biases.
Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences – Annual Reviews
Published: Aug 30, 2017
It’s your single place to instantly
discover and read the research
that matters to you.
Enjoy affordable access to
over 18 million articles from more than
15,000 peer-reviewed journals.
All for just $49/month
Query the DeepDyve database, plus search all of PubMed and Google Scholar seamlessly
Save any article or search result from DeepDyve, PubMed, and Google Scholar... all in one place.
Get unlimited, online access to over 18 million full-text articles from more than 15,000 scientific journals.
Read from thousands of the leading scholarly journals from SpringerNature, Elsevier, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford University Press and more.
All the latest content is available, no embargo periods.
“Hi guys, I cannot tell you how much I love this resource. Incredible. I really believe you've hit the nail on the head with this site in regards to solving the research-purchase issue.”Daniel C.
“Whoa! It’s like Spotify but for academic articles.”@Phil_Robichaud
“I must say, @deepdyve is a fabulous solution to the independent researcher's problem of #access to #information.”@deepthiw
“My last article couldn't be possible without the platform @deepdyve that makes journal papers cheaper.”@JoseServera