Using the magmatic record to constrain the growth of continental crust—The Eoarchean zircon Hf record of Greenland

Christopher M. Fisher, Jeffrey D. Vervoort

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Southern West Greenland contains some of the best-studied and best-preserved magmatic Eoarchean rocks on Earth, and these provide an excellent vantage point from which to view long-standing questions regarding the growth of the earliest continental crust. In order to address the questions surrounding early crustal growth and complementary mantle depletion, we present Laser Ablation Split Stream (LASS) analyses of the U–Pb and Hf isotope compositions of zircon from eleven samples of the least-altered meta-igneous rocks from the Itsaq (Amîtsoq) Gneisses of the Isukasia and Nuuk regions of southern West Greenland. This analytical technique allows a less ambiguous approach to determining the age and Hf isotope composition of complicated zircon. Results corroborate previous findings that Eoarchean zircon from the Itsaq Gneiss (∼3.85 Ga to ∼3.63 Ga) were derived from a broadly chondritic source. In contrast to the Sm–Nd whole rock isotope record for southern West Greenland, the zircon Lu–Hf isotope record provides no evidence for early mantle depletion, nor does it suggest the presence of crust older than ∼3.85 Ga in Greenland. Utilizing LASS U–Pb and Hf data from the Greenland zircons studied here, we demonstrate the importance of focusing on the magmatic (rather than detrital) zircon record to more confidently understand early crustal growth and mantle depletion. We compare the Greenland Hf isotope data with other Eoarchean magmatic complexes such as the Acasta Gneiss Complex, Nuvvuagittuq greenstone belt, and the gneissic complexes of southern Africa, and all lack zircons with suprachondritic Hf isotope compositions. In total, these data suggest only a very modest volume of crust was produced during (or survived from) the Hadean and earliest Eoarchean. There remains no record of planet-scale early Earth mantle depletion in the Hf isotope record prior to 3.8 Ga.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-91
Number of pages13
JournalEarth & Planetary Science Letters
Volume488
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2018
Externally publishedYes

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