Archean Crust Evolution

Ancient Mantle Geodynamics

✦ Field camp on Robinson Lake in the Central Slave Basement Complex of the Slave Craton, August 2016. (photo: Steve Shirey)

The Archean Eon (2500 myr to nearly 4000 myr before the present) was a time when the continental crust was first differentiated and stabilized. It marked the transition to modern-style plate tectonics and was perhaps the most important period for the formation of Earth’s mineral wealth (e.g. gold, nickel, copper, uranium, platinum, chromium, and diamonds).

This USGS map depicts the ages of the last tectonothermal event that the crust of the Earth has experienced. Archean crust is shown in orange. While not a large percentage of the crust by volume, Archean crust occupies a central position as a nucleus for continental growth and as a site for the production of mineThis USGS map depicts the ages of the last tectonothermal event that the crust of the Earth has experienced. Archean crust is shown in orange. While not a large percentage of the crust by volume, Archean crust occupies a central position as a nucleus for continental growth and as a site for the production of mineral resources.

Relevant Publications

Smit, K.V., Shirey, S.B., Hauri, E.H., and Stern, R.A. (2019) Sulfur isotopes in diamonds reveal differences in continent construction. Science 364, 383-385. http://doi.org/10.1126/science.aaw9548

Reimink, J. R., Pearson, D. G., Shirey, S. B., Carlson, R. W., Ketchum, J. W. F. (2019) Onset of new, progressive crustal growth in the central Slave craton at 3.5 Ga. Geochemical Perspectives Letters, 10, 7-12. http://doi.org/10.7185/geochemlet.1907

Reimink, J. R., Chacko, T., Carlson, R. W., Shirey, S. B., Liu, J., Stern, R. A., et al. (2018). Petrogenesis and tectonics of the Acasta Gneiss Complex derived from integrated petrology and 142 Nd and 182 W extinct nuclide-geochemistry. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 494, 12–22. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2018.04.047

Garçon, M., Carlson, R. W., Shirey, S. B., Arndt, N. T., Horan, M. F., & Mock, T. D. (2017). Erosion of Archean continents: The Sm-Nd and Lu-Hf isotopic record of Barberton sedimentary rocks. Geochimica Et Cosmochimica Acta, 206, 216–235. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.gca.2017.03.006

Pearson, D.G., Snyder, G.A., Shirey, S.B., Taylor, L.A., Carlson, R.W., and Sobolev, N.V., 1995, Archaean Re-Os age for Siberian eclogites and constraints on Archaean tectonics: Nature, v. 374, p. 711-713.

Schiotte, L., Hansen, B.T., Shirey, S.B., and Bridgwater, D., 1993, Petrological and whole rock isotopic characteristics of tectonically juxtaposed Archaean gneisses in the Okak area of the Nain Province, Labrador; relevance for terrane models: Precambrian Research, v. 63, p. 293-323.

Barrie, C.T., and Shirey, S.B., 1991, Nd- and Sr-isotope systematics for the Kamiskotia-Montcalm area; implications for the formation of late Archean crust in the western Abitibi Subprovince, Canada: Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, v. 28, p. 58-76.

Bedard, L.P., Stern, R.A., Hanson, G.N., and Shirey, S.B., 1990, Petrogenesis of mantle-derived, LILE-enriched Archean monzodiorites and trachyandesites (sanukitoids) in southwestern Superior Province; discussion and reply: Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, v. 27, p. 1135-1137.

Walker, R.J., Shirey, S.B., Hanson, G.N., Rajamani, V., and Horan, M.F., 1989, Re-Os, Rb-Sr, and O isotopic systematics of the Archean Kolar schist belt, Karnataka, India: Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, v. 53, p. 3005-3013.

Stern, R.A., Hanson, G.N., and Shirey, S.B., 1989, Petrogenesis of mantle-derived, LILE-enriched Archean monzodiorites and trachyandesites (sanukitoids) in southwestern Superior Province: Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, v. 26, p. 1688-1712.

Rajamani, V., Shirey, S.B., and Hanson, G.N., 1989, Fe-rich Archean tholeiites derived from melt-enriched mantle sources; evidence from the Kolar schist belt, South India: Journal of Geology, v. 97, p. 487-501.

Lambert, D.D., Morgan, J.W., Walker, R.J., Shirey, S.B., Carlson, R.W., Zientek, M.L., and Koski, M.S., 1989, Rhenium-osmium and samarium-neodymium isotopic systematics of the Stillwater Complex: Science, v. 244, p. 1169-1174.

Walker, R.J., Shirey, S.B., and Stecher, O., 1988, Comparative Re-Os, Sm-Nd and Rb-Sr isotope and trace element systematics for Archean komatiite flows from Munro Township, Abitibi Belt, Ontario: Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v. 87, p. 1-12.

Shirey, S.B., and Hanson, G.N., 1986, Mantle heterogeneity and crustal recycling in Archean granite-greenstone belts; evidence from Nd isotopes and trace elements in the Rainy Lake area, Superior Province, Ontario, Canada: Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, v. 50, p. 2631-2651.

Rajamani, V., Shivkumar, K., Hanson, G.N., and Shirey, S.B., 1985, Geochemistry and petrogenesis of amphibolites, Kolar schist belt, South India; evidence for komatiitic magma derived by low percentages of melting of the mantle: Journal of Petrology, v. 26, p. 92-123.

Shirey, S.B., and Hanson, G.N., 1984, Mantle-derived Archaean monzodiorites and trachyandesites: Nature, v. 310, p. 222-224.

Shirey, S.B., 1984, The origin of Archean crust in the Rainy Lake area, Ontario.

Shirey, S.B., and Hanson, G.N., 1983, Granitic rocks and metasediments in Archean crust, Rainy Lake area, Ontario; Nd isotope evidence for mantle-like Sm/ Nd sources, in Ashwal Lewis, D., and Card Kenneth, D., eds., Workshop on a cross section of Archean crust., Volume 83-03: LPI Technical Report: Houston, TX, United States, Lunar and Planetary Institute, p. 83-86.