Evidence for episodic crustal growth extending back to the Hadean has recently prompted a number of numerically based geodynamic models that incorporate cyclic changes from stagnant lid to mobile lid tectonics. A large part of the geologic record is missing for the times at which several of these cycles are inferred to have taken place. The cratons, however, are likely to retain important clues relating to similar cycles developed in the Mesoarchean and Neoarchean. Widespread acceptance of a form of plate tectonics by ∼3.2 Ga is not at odds with the sporadic occurrence of stagnant lid tectonics after this time. The concept of scale as applied to cratons, mantle plumes and Neoarchean volcanic arcs are likely to provide important constraints on future models of Earth's geodynamic evolution. The Superior Province will provide some of the most concrete evidence in this regard given that its constituent blocks may have been locked into a stagnant lid relatively soon after their formation and then assembled in the next global plate tectonic interval. Perceived complexities associated with inferred mantle plume – volcanic arc associations in the Superior Province and other cratons may be related to an over estimation of plume size. A possible stagnant lid episode between ∼2.9 Ga and ∼2.8 Ga is identified by previously unexplained lapses in volcanism on cratons, including the Kaapvaal, Yilgarn and Superior Province cratons. If real, then mantle dynamics associated with this episode likely eliminated any contemporaneous mantle plume incubation sites, which has important implications for widespread plumes developed at ∼2.7 Ga and favours a shallow mantle source in the transition zone. The Superior Province provides a uniquely preserved local proxy for this global event and could serve as the basis for detailed numerical models in the future.
Wyman, D. (2018). Do cratons preserve evidence of stagnant lid tectonics? Geoscience Frontiers, 9(1), 3–17. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gsf.2017.02.001