Thermal implications of metamorphism in greenstone belts and the hot asthenosphere-thick continental lithoshere paradox
AbstractFrom considerations of secular cooling of the Earth and the slow decay of radiogenic heat sources in the Earth with time, the conclusion that global heat loss must have been higher in the Archean than at present seems inescapable. The mechanism by which this additional heat was lost and the implications of higher heat low for crustal temperatures are fundamental unknowns in our current understanding of Archean tectonics and geological processes. Higher heat loss implies that the average global geothermal gradient was higher in the Archean than at present, and the restriction of ultramafic komatiites to the Archean and other considerations suggests that the average temperature of the mantle was several hundred degrees hotter during the Archean than today. In contrast, there is little petrologic evidence that the conditions of metamorphism or crustal thickness (including maximum crustal thickness under mountains) were different in archean continental crust from the Phanerozoic record. Additionally, Archean ages have recently been determined for inclusions in diamonds from Cretaceous kimeberlites in South Africa, indicating temperatures of 900 to 1300 at depths of 150 to 215 km (45 to 65 kbar) in the Archean mantle, again implying relatively low geothermal gradients at least locally in the Archean. The thermal implications of metamorphism are examined, with special reference to greenstone belts, and a new thermal model of the continental lithosphere is suggested which is consistent with thick continental lithosphere and high asthenosphere temperatures in the Archean.
TypeLunar and Planetary Inst. Workshop on the Tectonic Evolution of Greenstone Belts; p 81-83
Document ID: 19860013646
Accession ID: 86N23117