Antarctic Drilling Program


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Citation: Mukasa, S.B., S.H. Choi, A.V. Andronikov, Y. Osanai, S.L. Harley, and N.M. Kelly (2007), Lu−Hf systematics of the ultra-high temperature Napier Complex, East Antarctica: Evidence for the early Archean differentiation of Earth’s mantle: in Antarctica: A Keystone in a Changing World – Online Proceedings of the 10th ISAES, edited by A.K. Cooper and C.R. Raymond et al., USGS Open-File Report 2007-1047, Extended Abstract 207, 4 p.


The Napier Complex comprises some of the oldest rocks on earth (~3.8 billion years old), overprinted by an ultra-high temperature (UHT) metamorphic event near the Archean−Proterozoic boundary. Garnet, orthopyroxene, sapphirine, osumilite, rutile and a whole rock representing an equilibrated assemblage from this belt yield a Lu−Hf isochron age of 2,403 ± 43 Ma. Preservation of the UHT mineral assemblage in the rock analyzed suggests rapid cooling with closure likely to have occurred for the Lu−Hf system at post-peak UHT conditions near a temperature of ~800°C. Zircon εHf values measured “see through” the UHT metamorphism and show that the source of magmas that formed the Napier Complex was extremely depleted (> +5.6 εHf at 3.85 Ga) relative to the chondritic uniform reservoir (CHUR). These results suggest significant depletion of the early Archean mantle, in agreement with the early differentiation of the earth that the latest core formation models require.