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The Hadean & Archean

“It’s the Earth Jim, but not as we know it.”


Questions
• When and how did Earth and its moon come into being?

• How did the core, mantle, crust form?

• Where did Archean rocks form, and what is their nature?

• When and why did large continents begin to form?

• Where did life arise and what kinds of life existed at the end of
Archean time?

• Why did relatively little free oxygen accumulate in Earth’s


atmosphere through Archean time?
2
3
Precambrian Era
Geologic Time Scale
Eon Era Period Age (Myrs) Epoch

Hadean,
Holocene
0.01
Quaternary
C Pleistocene
1.8
e

Archean
Pliocene
n 5.3
Neogene
o
Miocene
z 23.8
o
Tertiary Oligocene

and
i 33.6
c Paleocene Eocene
54.8

P Paleocene
65
h

Proterozoic:
M
a Cretaceous
e
n 144
s
e
o
r Jurassic
z

2500-4600
o 206
o
z
i Triassic
o
c 248
i
c Permian
290

Myrs
P Pennsylvanian
323
a
l Mississippian
354
e
o Devonian
417
z
o Silurian
443
i
c Ordivician
490

Cambrian
543
P
r Proterozoic
e
2500
c
a
m Archean
b
3800
r
i
a Hadean
n
Age of the Earth 4600 Myrs (4.6 Byrs)
Source: Geological Society of America (1999)
Archean Divided into:
Hadean Earth

2004 - Fred Sulahria


Rocks Older than 2.5 Gyrs
Hadean: What We Know…
The Earth was a very different place!
But some major features of the Earth developed:

• atmosphere (throughout Hadean)

• oceans (water by 4.4 Gyr, stable oceans by 3.8 Gyr)

• crust and continents (by 4.4-4.0 Gyr)

• plate tectonics starts (about 4.0 Gyr)

• magnetic field (about 4.5 Gyr)

• life?
Heavy Bombardment Period
Bombardment may have led to a
Temporary “Magma Ocean”

~ 25 to 30 big impacts (few hundred to few thousand km in diameter) in the


last 200 million years of the major bombardment phase. A small meteorite
(50-60 km) would create an impact crater 1000 km across and 100 km deep!
Magma Solidified into Early Crust
Ultramafic,
Dense,
Uniform

Komatiites
Atmospheric Formation
Hypothesis: Captured from Solar Nebula
• Mostly Hydrogen and Helium
• Would have been quickly lost. Earth’s gravity is not great enough to either
hold H or He at this temperature

If initially lost - where did the present


atmosphere come from?
1. Hydrous minerals (water-bearing) outgassed from
volcanoes
2. Brought to Earth by comets
Secondary Atmosphere - Outgassing

Initially Composed of:


• Ammonia (NH3)
• Hydrogen (H2)
• Carbon dioxide (CO2)
• Methane (CH4)
• Water vapor (H2O)
• Nitrogen (N2)
Similar to
Saturn’s
moon:
Titan
The Faint Young Sun Paradox!
One Reconstruction
(Others have much more Carbon Dioxide in Hadean)

High carbon dioxide or methane solves the Faint Young Sun paradox due to
the Greenhouse Effect
No Significant Oxygen!

Evidence:
• No Rust Minerals
• Pyrite and Uraninite
Conglomerates
(normally oxidize)
• Extensive carbon-rich
rocks
Witwatersrand conglomerate, South Africa
(Middle Archean)
Atmospheric Evolution
Primary - Captured from Solar Nebula
- Mostly Hydrogen and Helium
- Quickly Lost

Secondary - Formed by Outgassing by Volcanoes

Tertiary - Modified by Life (addition of Oxygen)


Oceans
“Raining” of the
Oceans
“Vaporization” of the Oceans
Hadean Oceans
Characteristics Evidence
• Liquid Water existed at • Jack Hills Formation zircon crystals
4.4 Gyrs with water inclusions

•“Ephemeral” (periodically •solar system evidence for heavy


vaporized) bombardment and models

• Acidic (water + carbon • no limestones, atmospheric


dioxide = carbonic acid) models

•Probably “salty” •acidic water (dissolves ions)

• Stabilized by end of • first limestones & sedimentary


Hadean (about 3.8 Gyrs) rocks
Continents
Formation
Requires Plate
Tectonics:

Subduction and
magma
differentiation
creates
more Felsic Crust
Crustal Properties

Crust Density Composition Thickness Age

Thick: Old:
continental ~2.8 g/cm3 Felsic up to
20-70 km 4 Byrs

Thin: Young:
oceanic ~3.2 g/cm3 Mafic
2-10 km <200 Mys
The Aleutian Island Chain
Seismic activity in the Aleutian Islands
Heat Generated by Radioactive Decay

Hadean Earth was


much hotter!

Convection was
more intense
As Plates Move - Islands “Accrete” to
Form Larger Islands
pillow lavas

http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/vents/nemo/explorer/concepts/pillow_lava.html
Tonalites
(Granites)
Felsic intrusions, slow
recycling of sediments
creates less dense
materials that stabilize
the continental crust

Greenstones
Layered volcanics (pillow basalts; MORBs),
conglomerates and greywackes (turbidites,
mudstones and shales formed from volcanic
sediments in deep water. More felsic at the
top. Green due to chlorite formed during
metamorphism.
Continental Crust Forms

What is the parent rock of a schist?


A Shale!

Where are shales formed?


In the Ocean!

Therefore there had to be liquid water, an active


hydrologic system, i.e. rain, rivers,lakes etc.

LIFE?

3.96 Billion Year Old Gneiss


Continental Evolution

Up to 60% by the Proterozoic


Proterozoic Eon
Making the Modern World

Represents a change in crust and sediment formation.

Proterozoic sediments are more similar to Phanerozoic


sediments in that they are shallow water, beach, tidal
and deltaic, quartz-rich sandstones, shales and a very few
carbonates representing recycling of felsic crust instead
of simply volcanics and sediment from volcanic debris
Geologic Time Scale
Eon Era Period Age (Myrs) Epoch
Holocene
0.01
Quaternary
C Pleistocene
1.8
e
Pliocene
n 5.3
Neogene
1000 Myr o
Miocene
z 23.8
o
Tertiary Oligocene
i 33.6
c Paleocene Eocene
54.8

P Paleocene
65
h
M
1600 Myr a Cretaceous
e
n 144
s
e
o
r Jurassic
z
o 206
o
z
i Triassic
o
c 248
i
c Permian
290
P Pennsylvanian
323
a
2500 Myr l Mississippian
354
e
o Devonian
417
z
o Silurian
443
i
c Ordivician
490

Cambrian
543
P
r Proterozoic
e
2500
c
a

2500-543 m
b
r
i
Archean
3800

a Hadean

Myrs n
Age of the Earth 4600 Myrs (4.6 Byrs)
Source: Geological Society of America (1999)
Where Rocks of the Proterozoic are exposed
Orogenic
(Mobile) Belt

Basement Rock

Anatomy of a Continent
North
American
Craton

Shield
Western North
American Mobile
Mobile Eastern North
Belt Belt American
Mobile Belt

Platform
Precambrian Cratons:
Shields, Platforms and Mobile Belts
Uplifted Exposed Precambrian Rocks
Basement Canadian Shield
Fold and thrust belt
Cordillera

Western North
American Mobile
Belt, aka Orogenic
belt, i.e. Where
most of the
mountains form
Laramide deformation and uplift
Orogenies
= Mountian Building Events
Caused by:
1. Collision - Fold and Thrust Mountains
Orogenies
= Mountian Building Events
Caused by:
2. Subduction - Volcanic (Arc) Mountains
A-2

Basement
Provinces
of North
America
A.K.A. GF
“The United Plates of
America”

Archean Basement
(>2.5 billion years)
Proterozoic Basement
(2.5-0.5 billion years)

Mobile Belts
A-2

Northwest
Basement
Wyoming Provenance
2.8-3.5 Gyrs old
Includes rocks found in
GF
Beartooth Mtns and
Grand Teton National Park

Hearne Provenance
2.8-3.5 Gyrs old

Collision Zone:
Great Falls Tectonic Zone
(GF)
2.8 Gyrs ago
The Beartooth valley: Precambrian rocks uplifted during the late
Cretaceous, glacially eroded in the Holocene, still eroding today
A-2

Northwest
Basement
Collision Zone:
Trans-Hudson Belt
1.9-1.8 Gyrs ago
Wyoming/Hearne collide GF

with Superior Provenance

By 1.8 Gyrs the basement


rock of NA was in place
Continental Growth

Proterozoic
Radioactive Heat Flow

Proterozoic
Wilson
Cycle
Grenville
Orogeny
(The building
of Rodinia)

Archean Basement

Proterozoic Basement

Orogenic Belts
Rocks of the Grenville Orogeny
1.2-1.0 Gyrs
Montana

New York

Rodinia
“Motherland”

Forms
1.2-1.0 Grs
Belt Supergroup, Montana
West Coast of Laurasia
Mid
Continental
Rift
(1.3-1.0 Gyr)
Origin of a
Failed Rift
Continental Rift
Keweenawan Supergroup, MI
Mesoproterozoic Rift Rocks
Rifts to form the
(pre-Pacific)
Panthalassa
Ocean Montana

Rifts to form the


(pre-Atlantic)
Iapetus Ocean New York

Rodinia
Rifts
(750 Myrs)
Rifting of
Rodinia
Gondwana & Laurentia

About 500 Myr


Atmospheric Changes
Oxygen Increases: Carbon Dioxide Decreases

Thanks to…

Proterozoic
BIF’s
(3.5-1.8 Gyrs)
Banded Iron Formation

92% Between
2.5-2.0 Gyrs

The rest in the


Neopropterozoic
~ 600-700 Mya
Carol Lake
Iron Mine,
Canada
Red Beds
< 1.8 Gyrs

After iron in the


ocean was used
up, oxygen started
to accumulate in
the atmosphere.
Oxygen Buildup
occurs at
(the Same Time?)
as First
Eukaryotes
Appear
Atmospheric Changes:
UV Protection
Where Did All the Atmospheric
Carbon Dioxide Go?
Carbon Storage
The Carbon Thermostat,
i.e the greenhouse effect
Carbon burial as carbonates (limestones, dolomites and organic matter) resulted in
decreases in atmospheric carbon dioxide, which made it possible for…
Paleoproterozoic (2.2 Gyr)
Gowganda Fm, Canada

Tillite

Varves
The First Ice Age
5

Major
4

3
“Ice Ages”
in Earth History
2

1
Neoproterozoic (Varangian)
Ice Age (800-600 Myr)

Carbonates &
Ironstones

Tillite
Neoproterozoic
Snowball Earth
Snowball Earth
Why Banded
Iron
Formations?
Ice Age Ends at the
Around the Same
Time the First
Multi-Celled
Animals Appear

Coincidence or not?