Niobium/Uranium Evidence for Early Formation of the Continental Crust

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Science  24 Jan 1997:
Vol. 275, Issue 5299, pp. 521-523
DOI: 10.1126/science.275.5299.521

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Niobium/uranium ratios in greenstone-belt basalts and gabbros indicate that parts of the Late Archean mantle beneath Western Australia underwent a level of melt extraction, resulting in formation of the continental crust, comparable to that seen in the present mantle. The implication is either that (i) the amount of continental crust that formed before 2.7 × 109 years ago was much greater than generally thought or (ii) crustal growth occurred by severe depletion of small volumes of the mantle rather than by moderate depletion of a large volume of mantle.

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