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Earth's crust was unstable in the Archean eon and dripped down into the mantle
Date:12/30/2013

collaborators at the US-American universities of Maryland, Southern California, and Yale have established that the mineral assemblages that formed at the base of a 45-kilometer-thick magnesium-rich crust were denser than the underlying mantle layer. In order to better explore the physics of this process, Professor Boris Kaus of the Geophysics work group at Mainz University developed new computer models that simulate the conditions when the Earth was still relatively young and take into account Johnson's calculations.

These geodynamic computer models show that the base of a magmatically over-thickened and magnesium-rich crust would have been gravitationally unstable at mantle temperatures greater than 1,500 to 1,550 degrees Celsius and this would have caused it to sink in a process called 'delamination'. The dense crust would have dripped down into the mantle, triggering a return flow of mantle material from the asthenosphere that would have melted to form new primary crust. Continued melting of over-thickened and dripping magnesium-rich crust, combined with fractionation of primary magmas, may have produced the hydrated magnesium-poor basalts necessary to provide a source of the tonalitetrondhjemitegranodiorite complexes. The dense residues of these processes, which would have a high content of mafic minerals, must now reside in the mantle.


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Contact: Dr. Tim E. Johnson
tjohnson@uni-mainz.de
49-613-139-26825
Johannes Gutenberg Universitaet Mainz
Source:Eurekalert

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