Hafnium and iron isotopes in early Archean komatiites record a plume-driven convection cycle in the Hadean Earth

Oliver Nebel, Ian H. Campbell, Paolo A. Sossi, Martin J. Van Kranendonk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

57 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Archean (>2.5 billion years) komatiites are considered expressions of mantle plumes that originate from and thereby sample the lowermost mantle overlying the Earth's core. Some komatiites have reported Hf isotope signatures that require a mantle source with a time-integrated Lu/Hf that is appreciably higher than average modern depleted mantle. The systematic study of the time and locus of parent-daughter fractionation of the mantle sources of these komatiites potentially constrains differentiation processes in the early Earth, and subsequent distribution and storage of early mantle reservoirs. We present radiogenic Hf and stable Fe isotopes for a series of komatiites from the Pilbara craton in Western Australia (aged 3.5 to 2.9 Ga). After careful evaluation of the effects of alteration, we find that pristine samples are characterised by a light Fe isotope mantle source and initial 176Hf/177Hf well above the age-corrected depleted mantle. Taken together these observations require a component of an old, melt-depleted reservoir in their mantle source. The Hf isotope signature of this component appears to be complementary to the first terrestrial crust, as preserved in Hadean (i.e., >4 Ga) detrital zircon cores, suggesting a causal relationship and a Hadean age for this depletion event. We propose that this Early Refractory Reservoir (ERR) is the residue formed by deep melting in hot Hadean mantle plumes, which then accumulated at the base of the first crust. Parts of this primordial lithosphere were destabilised and sank to the core-mantle boundary in cold drips and subsequently returned in hot mantle plumes, whose thermal capacity allows melting of such refractory mantle with its archetype isotope signature. The cycling of this material via cold drips and hot plumes suggests a plume-dominated convection prior to 3.9 Ga, which is then replaced by Archean-style plate tectonics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-120
Number of pages10
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Volume397
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2014
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Cold drips
  • Convection
  • Hadean
  • Hafnium isotopes
  • Iron isotopes
  • Komatiites

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science

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