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Impacts could have driven transient subduction events on the Hadean Earth, according to numerical simulations. The scenario reconciles evidence for tectonic activity with that for an otherwise tectonically stagnant early Earth.
A decrease in mafic continental crust coincides with the rise of O2 in the Earth’s surface environments about 3 billion years ago, according to an analysis of sediment chemistry. Reduced rates of serpentinization of mafic material, which produces chemicals that react with O2, could explain the link.
It has been previously assumed that deep river channels could not have developed in the Proterozoic due to lack of vegetation. Here, the authors present remote sensing and outcrop data to show that large scale and deeply channelled river networks did exist in the Proterozoic despite the absence of vegetation.
Some of the earliest life on Earth flourished in terrestrial hot springs. Here, the authors present evidence for ca. 3.5 Ga hot spring deposits from the Dresser Formation, Pilbara Craton, Australia, that host some of the earliest known life in the form of stromatolites and other microbial biosignatures.
The composition of Earth's oldest crust is uncertain. Comparison of the most ancient mineral grains with more recent analogues suggests that formation of the earliest crust was heavily influenced by re-melting of igneous basement rocks.
The composition of Earth's crust depends on the style of plate tectonics and of the melting regimes in the mantle. Analyses of the oldest identified rocks suggest that these styles and the resulting crust have changed over Earth's history.