Supercontinent-paced magmatic destabilisation and recratonisation of the Yilgarn Craton

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Knowledge of the evolution of ancient cratonic lithospheres underpins our understanding of Precambrian Earth. The Yilgarn Craton has exceptionally well-preserved Archean geology, with juvenile crust formation and major orogenesis concluding in the Neoarchean, and a stabilised upper-crustal architecture developing before 2.42 Ga. However, in an apparent dichotomy, geophysical models resolve lithospheric mantle composition outside the range of xenolith data from Archean regions, indicating the lithospheric mantle has since been extensively refertilised. Post-Archean igneous and sedimentary rocks record a prolonged lithospheric evolution that is not well resolved in datasets recording bulk crustal isotopic evolution. Reconciling these, we combine interpretation of geological and geophysical data to resolve two phases of lithosphere destabilisation driven by major magmatic events at ∼2.06 Ga and at ∼1.08 Ga. During destabilisation, sub-lithospheric and sub-crustal mantle fluxes caused extensive mantle refertilisation. For 200–400 Ma post-refertilisation, distributed sedimentary basins formed during recratonisation of the now denser lithosphere. The timing of these events suggests a relationship with the early stages of supercontinent assembly: Dominant downwelling beneath the assembling supercontinent sustains a sufficiently non-tensile tectonic setting to inhibit lithospheric thinning and breakup and enhances lateral flow of any upwelling mantle. This setting allows widespread intraplate refertilisation to occur while later the assembled supercontinent provides a stable setting allowing thermal re-equilibration and recratonisation to occur. In contrast, lithospheric refertilisation during supercontinent breakup will be more susceptible to density instabilities and recycling in later collisions. Consequently, we suggest that refertilisation of extant cratonic lithosphere may dominantly have occurred during the assembly of supercontinents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-24
Number of pages13
JournalGondwana Research
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023


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