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Evidence of modern-style plate tectonics is preserved in the continental rock record as orogens and rifts; these orogens represent regions of mountain building resulting from compression between converging plates. Recognition of orogens in the ancient rock record can help identify when plate tectonics began on Earth. Evidence of Paleoproterozoic collisional orogeny is widely accepted. The development, however, of Archean collisional orogens is highly controversial, as is the operation of plate tectonics in general. We review the tectonic evolution of three well-studied Archean terranes—the Pilbara craton of Western Australia, the Barberton granite-greenstone terrane of South Africa, and the Superior Province of...

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