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Review Article
Nature 357, 553 - 562 (18 June 1992); doi:10.1038/357553a0

Formation of an Archaean continent

Maarten J. de Wit, Cornel E. J. de Ronde, Marian Tredoux, Chris Roering, Rodger J. Hart, Richard A. Armstrong, Rod W. E. Green, Ellie Peberdy & Roger A. Hart

Department of Geology, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch 7700, South Africa.
Department of Geology, Rand Afrikaans University, Johannesburg 2050, South Africa.
Schon-land Research Centre, University of the W/twatersrand, Johannesburg 2000, South Africa (seconded from South African Geological Survey).
Department of Geochemistry, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch 7700, South Africa.
BPI Geophysics, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg 2050, South Africa.
College of Oceanography, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon 97331, USA.

About 30% of the Earth is covered by continents, but only about 10 small kernels of these continentsae—known as Archaean cratonsae—are continental fragments formed before 2.5 Gyr ago. The Kaapvaal craton of South Africa, which formed and stabilized between 3.7 and 2.7 Gyr ago, is one of the oldest reasonably sized examples of these continental fragments. It consists of a mosaic of subdomains that have been welded together by processes similar to those of modern-day plate tectonics. The earliest subdomains may have owed their origin to the onset of efficient recycling from the Earth's hydrosphere into the mantle.

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