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Around 88% of the history of the Earth occurred during the Precambrian period, which can be subdivided into the Archaean and the Proterozoic eons (Figs. 2.1 & 2.2). The Archaean eon (Greek archaia — ancient ones; 4.56-2.5 Ga) comprises the Eo-Palaeo-, Meso-and Neoarchaean eras. For the early Archaean the term Hadean is also used (Greek hades — unseen or hell; 4.56-3.8 Ga) (Fig. 2.1). The Proterozoic eon (Greek proteros — first, zoon — creature; 2.5-0.542 Ga) is composed of the Palaeo-, Meso-and Neoproterozoic eras (Fig. 2.2). The latter eras can be subdivided into different periods defined by the...

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