Greenstone burial–exhumation cycles at the late Archean transition to plate tectonics

Zibra Ivan, Kemp Anthony I S, Smithies R Hugh, Rubatto Daniela, Korhonen Fawna, Hammerli Johannes, Johnson Tim E, Gessner Klaus, Weinberg Roberto F, Vervoort Jeff D, Martin Laure, Romano Sandra S

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6 Citations (Scopus)


Converging lines of evidence suggest that, during the late Archean, Earth completed its transition from a stagnant-lid to a plate tectonics regime, although how and when this transition occurred is debated. The geological record indicates that some form of subduction, a key component of plate tectonics—has operated since the Mesoarchean, even though the tectonic style and timescales of burial and exhumation cycles within ancient convergent margins are poorly constrained. Here, we present a Neoarchean pressure–temperature–time (P–T–t) path from supracrustal rocks of the transpressional Yilgarn orogen (Western Australia), which documents how sea-floor-altered rocks underwent deep burial then exhumation during shortening that was unrelated to the episode of burial. Archean subduction, even if generally short-lived, was capable of producing eclogites along converging lithosphere boundaries, although exhumation processes in those environments were likely less efficient than today, such that return of high-pressure rocks to the surface was rare.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7893
Number of pages17
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 22 Dec 2022


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