Holocene quartz-rich sands such as in the Orinoco River of Venezuela and Columbia, develop under a unique set of conditions including tectonic stability, intense weathering and long-term storage of sediment prior to burial. This review paper proposes that a similar set of conditions existed on the Mesoarchaean Earth by 3.0 Ga. Compositionally and texturally mature quartz arenites are present in the Mesoarchaean Hospital Hill Subgroup and correlative lower Mozaan Group, in the cover rocks of the Beitbridge Complex in the Limpopo Belt and at Buhwa in southern Zimbabwe as well as the Neoarchaean Manjeri Formation of Zimbabwe. These quartz arenites are interpreted as first-cycle and developed following the formation of stable cratons under conditions of slow subsidence (<10 cm/1 000 years), intense weathering in a hostile chemical environment related to the ambient carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere, long-distance intrabasinal transport by tides and/or waves and microbial processes that influenced the local chemical environment. Similar examples of Mesoarchaean quartz arenites are documented from the Yilgarn Block in Western Australia, the Slave and Superior provinces in Canada and the Dharwar and Singhbhum cratons in India. On a global scale, cratonisation was diachronous with the Kaapvaal Craton stabilised on a regional scale by 3.0 Ga whereas microcontinents existed over the remainder of Earth.

You do not have access to this content, please speak to your institutional administrator if you feel you should have access.