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Archaean tectonic systems: A view from igneous rocks

Abstract : This work examines the global distribution of Archaean and modern igneous rock's compositions, without relying on preconceptions about the link between rock compositions and tectonic sites (in contrast with “geotectonic” diagrams). Rather, Archaean and modern geochemical patterns are interpreted and compared in terms of source and melting conditions. Mafic rocks on the modern Earth show a clear chemical separation between arc and non-arc rocks. This points to the first order difference between wet (arc) and dry (mid-ocean ridges and hotspots) mantle melting. Dry melts are further separated in depleted (MORB) and enriched (OIB) sources. This three-fold pattern is a clear image of the ridge/subduction/plume system that dominates modern tectonics. In contrast, Archaean mafic and ultramafic rocks are clustered in an intermediate position, between the three main modern types. This suggests that the Archaean mantle had lesser amounts of clearly depleted or enriched portions; that true subductions were rare; and that the distinction between oceanic plateaus and ridges may have been less significant. Modern granitic rocks dominantly belong to two groups: arc-related granitoids, petrologically connected to arc basalts; and collision granitoids, related to felsic sources. In contrast, the Archaean record is dominated by the TTG suite that derives from an alkali-rich mafic source (i.e. altered basalt). The geochemical diversity of the TTG suite points to a great range of melting depths, from ca. 5 to > 20 kbar. This reveals the absence of large sedimentary accumulations, again the paucity of modern-like arc situations, and the importance played by reworking of an earlier basaltic shell, in a range of settings (including some proto-subduction mechanisms). Nonetheless, granitoids in each individual region show a progressive transition towards more modern-looking associations of arc-like and peraluminous granites. Collectively, the geochemical evidence suggests an Archaean Earth with somewhat different tectonic systems. In particular, the familiar distinction between collision, arcs, ridges and hotspots seems to blur in the Archaean. Rather, the large-scale geochemical pattern reveals a long-lived, altered and periodically resurfaced basaltic crust. This protocrust is reworked, through a range of processes occurring at various depths that correspond to a progressive stabilization of burial systems and the establishment of true subductions. A punctuated onset of global plate tectonics is unlikely to have occurred, but rather short-term episodes of proto-subduction in the late Archaean evolved over time into longer-term, more stable style of plate tectonics as mantle temperature decayed.
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https://hal.uca.fr/hal-01718663
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Submitted on : Tuesday, February 27, 2018 - 3:44:17 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, November 3, 2021 - 9:20:32 AM

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Jean-François Moyen, Oscar Laurent. Archaean tectonic systems: A view from igneous rocks. Lithos, Elsevier, 2018, 302-303, pp.99 - 125. ⟨10.1016/j.lithos.2017.11.038⟩. ⟨hal-01718663⟩

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