The Superior Province of North America has not experienced major internal deformation for nearly 2.8 Gyr, preserving the Archean crust in its likely original state. We present seismological evidence for a sharp (less than 1 km) crust-mantle boundary beneath three distinct Archean terranes and for a more vertically extensive boundary at sites likely affected by the 1.2-0.9 Ga Grenville orogeny. At all sites crustal thickness is smaller than expected for the primary crust produced by melting under higher mantle potential temperature conditions of Archean time. Reduced thickness and an abrupt contrast in seismic properties at the base of the undisturbed Archean crust are consistent with density sorting and loss of the residues through gravitational instability facilitated by higher temperatures in the upper mantle at the time of formation. Similar sharpness of crust-mantle boundary in disparate Archean terranes suggests that it is a universal feature of the Archean crustal evolution.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)
- receiver function