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Geophysical Detection of Relict Metasomatism from an Archean (~3.5 Ga) Subduction Zone

Science  20 Nov 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5956, pp. 1089-1091
DOI: 10.1126/science.1178477

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Abstract

When plate tectonics started on Earth has been uncertain, and its role in the assembly of early continents is not well understood. By synthesizing coincident seismic and electrical profiles, we show that subduction processes formed the Archean Slave craton in Canada. The spatial overlap between a seismic discontinuity and a conductive anomaly at ~100 kilometers depth, in conjunction with the occurrence of mantle xenoliths rich in secondary minerals representative of a metasomatic front, supports cratonic assembly by subduction and accretion of lithospheric fragments. Although evidence of cratonic assembly is rarely preserved, these results suggest that plate tectonics was operating as early as Paleoarchean times, ~3.5 billion years ago (Ga).

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