Heading down early on? Start of subduction on earth

Simon Turner, Tracy Rushmer, Mark Reagan, Jean Francois Moyen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

160 Citations (Scopus)


How the Earth's earliest crust was formed and when present-day plate tectonics (i.e., subduction) and life commenced remain fundamental questions in Earth sciences. Whereas the bulk composition of the crust is similar to that of rocks generated in subduction settings, it does not necessarily follow that melting and crust formation require subduction. Many workers suggest that subduction may have only commenced toward the end of the Archean or later. Here we observe that both the stratigraphy and geochemistry of rocks found in Quebec, Canada, that have been variously argued to be 4.4 or 3.8 Ga in age, closely match those from the modern-day Izu-Bonin-Mariana forearc. We suggest that this geochemical stratigraphy might provide a more robust test of ancient tectonic setting than individual chemical or isotopic signatures in rocks or detrital minerals. If correct, the match suggests that at least some form of subduction may have been operating as early as the Hadean or Eoarchean. This could have provided an ideal location for the development of fi rst life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-142
Number of pages4
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2014


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