Reference : 3.5billion years of reshaped Moho, southern Africa
Scientific journals : Article
Physical, chemical, mathematical & earth Sciences : Earth sciences & physical geography
3.5billion years of reshaped Moho, southern Africa
Stankiewicz, Jacek mailto [University of Luxembourg > Faculty of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences (FHSE) > Department of Social Sciences (DSOC)]
De Wit, M. [> >]
[en] According to some previous studies, Archean continental crust is, on global average, apparently thinner than Proterozoic crust. Subsequently, the validity of this statement has been questioned. To provide an additional perspective on this issue, we present analyses of Moho signatures derived from recent seismic data along swaths 2000 km in length across southern Africa and its flanking ocean. The imaged crust has a near continuous age range between ca. 0.1 and 3.7 billion years, and the seismic data allow direct comparison of Moho depths between adjacent Archean, Proterozoic and Phanerozoic crust. We find no simple secular change in depth to Moho over this time period. In contrast, there is significant variation in depth to Moho beneath both Archean and Proterozoic crust; Archean crust of southern Africa displays as much crustal diversity in thickness as the adjacent Proterozoic crust. The Moho beneath all crustal provinces that we have analysed has been severely altered by tectono-metamorphic and igneous processes, in many cases more than once, and cannot provide unequivocal data for geodynamic models dealing with secular changes in continental crust formation. These results and conclusions are similar to those documented along ca. 2000 km swaths across the Canadian Shield recorded by Lithoprobe. Tying the age and character of the Precambrian crust of southern Africa to their depth diversities is clearly related to manifold processes of tectono-thermal ‘surgery’ subsequent to their origin, the details of which are still to be resolved, as they are in most Precambrian terranes. Reconstructing pristine Moho of the early Earth therefore remains a formidable challenge. In South Africa, better knowledge of ‘fossilised’ Archean crustal sections ‘turned on-edge’, such as at the Vredefort impact crater (for the continental crust), and from the Barberton greenstone belt (for oceanic crust) is needed to characterize potential pristine Archean Moho transitions.

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