Abstract

Archean tonalite-trondhjemite-granodiorite associations (TTG) are classically thought to generate through partial melting of hydrous metabasalts. However, the chemical composition of the least differentiated TTG parental magmas evolved from 4.0 to 2.5 Ga. During this interval, the Mg# as well as the Ni and Cr contents increased, which is interpreted as reflecting increased interactions between felsic melts generated by metabasalt melting and mantle peridotite. Similarly, (CaO + Na2O) and Sr also increased over time, thus reflecting an increase in the abundance of plagioclase in the melt residue. The presence or absence of residual plagioclase is interpreted in terms of melting depth. The demonstrated interaction between TTG parental magmas and the mantle rules out their genesis by fusion of previously underplated metabasalt and favors the melting of subducted slab material. At 4.0 Ga, Earth's geothermal gradient was sufficiently high to allow slab melting at shallow depths where plagioclase was stable. Consequently, due to the small thickness of the overlying mantle wedge, felsic magmas interacted little with the mantle. At 2.5 Ga, however, owing to lower geothermal gradients, the melting depth was greater and plagioclase became no longer stable in the thick mantle wedge overlying the subducted slab. As a result, felsic magmas reacted strongly with the mantle peridotite. The changes of TTG composition during Archean time can be thus interpreted as reflecting the progressive cooling of Earth.

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