The composition and origin of the earliest continental crust is intensely debated. The understanding of its composition relies heavily on the oldest vestiges of continental crust, which includes detrital zircon grains that are up to 4.36 billion-years-old (Ga) and <4.03 Ga zircon-bearing rocks. However, the interpretation of these two sample suites has thus far remained largely separate. Here, we demonstrate that the trace-element compositions of magmatic zircons from the Acasta Gneiss Complex compare favorably with those of ancient detrital zircons from western Australia. We combine these new data with existing oxygen and hafnium isotope datasets to show that the petrological processes that formed the Acasta Gneiss Complex, namely partial melting of mafic crust at various depths, are an appropriate analogue for the formation of the Hadean crust parental to the Jack Hills zircon grains. We also suggest that a transition from shallow-, to deep-crustal melting occurred in the JH source region ca. 3.8 Ga.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Geochemistry and Petrology
- Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
- Space and Planetary Science