Greenstone basalts and komatiites provide a means to track both mantle composition and magma generation temperature with time. Four types of mantle are characterized from incompatible element distributions in basalts and komatiites: depleted, hydrated, enriched and mantle from which komatiites are derived. Our most important observation is the recognition for the first time of what we refer to as a Great Thermal Divergence within the mantle beginning near the end of the Archean, which we ascribe to thermal and convective evolution. Prior to 2.5 Ga, depleted and enriched mantle have indistinguishable thermal histories, whereas at 2.5-2.0 Ga a divergence in mantle magma generation temperature begins between these two types of mantle. Major and incompatible element distributions and calculated magma generation temperatures suggest that Archean enriched mantle did not come from mantle plumes, but was part of an undifferentiated or well-mixed mantle similar in composition to calculated primitive mantle. During this time, however, high-temperature mantle plumes from dominantly depleted sources gave rise to komatiites and associated basalts. Recycling of oceanic crust into the deep mantle after the Archean may have contributed to enrichment of Ti, Al, Ca and Na in basalts derived from enriched mantle sources. After 2.5 Ga, increases in Mg# in basalts from depleted mantle and decreases in Fe and Mn reflect some combination of growing depletion and cooling of depleted mantle with time. A delay in cooling of depleted mantle until after the Archean probably reflects a combination of greater radiogenic heat sources in the Archean mantle and the propagation of plate tectonics after 3 Ga.
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- Archean greenstones
- Mantle geochemistry
- Mantle thermal evolution