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Continents and Supercontinents$
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John J. W. Rogers and M. Santosh

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780195165890

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780195165890.001.0001

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Growth of Cratons and their Post-Stabilization Histories

Growth of Cratons and their Post-Stabilization Histories

(p.50) 4 Growth of Cratons and their Post-Stabilization Histories
Continents and Supercontinents

John J.W. Rogers

M. Santosh

Oxford University Press

As we have seen in chapter 3, continental crust evolved from regions of the mantle that contained higher concentrations of LIL elements than regions that underlie typical ocean basins. The most complete record of this evolutionary process is in cratons, which passed through periods of rapid crust production to times of comparative stability over intervals of several hundred million years. After the cratons became stable enough to accumulate sequences of undeformed platform sediments, they moved about the earth without being subjected to further compressive tectonic activity. Because many of the cratons are also partly covered by sediments that are unmetamorphosed or only slightly metamorphosed, they appear to have undergone very little erosion since the sediments were deposited. Thus, a craton may be considered as a large block of continental crust that has been permanently removed from the crustal recycling process. This chapter starts with a discussion of the history of cratons as interpreted from studies of the upper part of the crust. We describe the Superior craton of the Canadian shield and the Western Dharwar craton of southern India within the chapter and use appendix E for brief summaries of other typical cratons. These cratons and numerous others elsewhere developed at different times during earth history, and we look for similarities and differences that may have been caused by progressive cooling of the earth (chapter 2). This section concludes with a summary of the general evolution of cratons and the meaning of the terms “Archean” and “Proterozoic.” The following section is an investigation of processes that occurred following stabilization, all of which take place in the presence of fluids that permeate the crust. We include a summary of these fluids and their effects on anorogenic magmatism and separation of the lower and upper crust. The final section discusses the relationship between cratons and their underlying subcontinental lithospheric mantle (SCLM). Continual metasomatism and metamorphism of the SCLM after cratons develop above it apparently has not destroyed the relationship between the ages of the cratons and the concentrations of major elements in the SCLM. This provides us with an opportunity to determine whether cratons evolved from the mantle beneath them or by depletion of much larger volumes of mantle. The discussions in this chapter are based partly on information summarized in appendices B (heat flow) and D (isotopes).

Keywords:   Abitibi belt, Cratons, Fluids, Greenstone belts, Halekote trondhjemite, Incipient charnockite, Kapuskasing zone, Mesoproterozoic, Neoproterozoic, Paleoproterozoic

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