The timing of the emergence of subaerial landmasses is equivocally constrained as post-Archean and continues to be a much-debated issue. In this study, we document exceptionally 18O-depleted (δ18O < 4.7‰) Mesoarchean to early Neoarchean magmatism in India that shows a similarity with the coeval low-δ18O magmas reported from Australia, South America, and northern China. Such global-scale low-δ18O magmatism would require high-temperature meteoric water–rock interaction in the uppermost crust synchronous with magma generation, necessitating the emergence of a substantial volume of the continental crust. The timing of this low-δ18O magmatism coincides with the development of extensive, subaerial large igneous provinces, a downward shift in δ18O and Δ17O values in pelitic rocks, the rise of normalized 87Sr/86Sr in seawater, and an intermittent upsurge in the proportion of atmospheric oxygen. We propose that the emergence of substantial volumes of continental crust initiated at ca. 3.2 Ga and peaked at 2.8–2.6 Ga, facilitating the generation of globally distributed low-δ18O magmas, and this event can be linked to the first appearance of atmospheric oxygen.