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Looking for the oldest crust on earth: new results from the Australian Antarctic Territory

Looking for the oldest crust on earth: new results from the Australian Antarctic Territory
Monika A. Kusiak

Authors

Monika A. Kusiak1,2,3, Daniel J. Dunkley1, Simon A. Wilde1, Martin J. Whitehouse2

  1. Curtin University, Perth, GPO Box U1987, WA 6845
  2. Museum of Natural History, Stockholm, Sweden
  3. Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland

Abstract

The western periphery of the Australian Antarctic Territory contains some of the oldest known rocks on Earth. They form part of the Napier Complex, a metamorphic terrane that extends across Enderby Land and into western Kemp Land. Zircon U-Pb dating has established that this terrane is more than 2.5 billion years old, and contains crustal remnants as old as 4 billion years. Rocks of such great antiquity are exceedingly rare globally and provide earth scientists with unique insights into the evolution of the very early Earth. Despite the importance of these rocks, research on the geology of the Napier Complex has been limited by difficulties in accessing material for analysis, and by the complex geological history of the region. Almost all geological work has concentrated on a small area on the western side of the Napier Complex, where metamorphic conditions were the most extreme (>1000°C). Old rocks are rare here, and U-Pb isotopes are highly disturbed by very high metamorphic conditions, as recently demonstrated by the authors. New discoveries of ancient crust (~3.6 to 3.9 Ga) further to the east in western Kemp Land, where the metamorphism is less intense, are confirmed by our latest analyses. This demonstrates the probable existence of more extensive – but as yet unmapped – ancient crust within the Napier Complex.

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Key dates

  • 11th June 2013
    Registrations close
  • 21st June 2013
    Registrations at the AAD open for staff
  • 24th June 2013
    Registrations at the venue open
  • 24th June 2013
    Conference commences
  • 26th June 2013
    Conference concludes

More key dates…

This page was last modified on 23 September 2013.