A Vestige of Earth's Oldest Ophiolite

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Science  23 Mar 2007:
Vol. 315, Issue 5819, pp. 1704-1707
DOI: 10.1126/science.1139170

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A sheeted-dike complex within the ∼3.8-billion-year-old Isua supracrustal belt (ISB) in southwest Greenland provides the oldest evidence of oceanic crustal accretion by spreading. The geochemistry of the dikes and associated pillow lavas demonstrates an intraoceanic island arc and mid-ocean ridge–like setting, and their oxygen isotopes suggest a hydrothermal ocean-floor–type metamorphism. The pillows and dikes are associated with gabbroic and ultramafic rocks that together make up an ophiolitic association: the Paleoarchean Isua ophiolite complex. These sheeted dikes offer evidence for remnants of oceanic crust formed by sea-floor spreading of the earliest intact rocks on Earth.

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