Archean continental crust formed by magma hybridization and voluminous partial melting

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Archean (4.0–2.5 Ga) tonalite–trondhjemite–granodiorite (TTG) terranes represent fragments of Earth’s first continents that formed via high-grade metamorphism and partial melting of hydrated basaltic crust. While a range of geodynamic regimes can explain the production of TTG magmas, the processes by which they separated from their source and acquired distinctive geochemical signatures remain uncertain. This limits our understanding of how the continental crust internally differentiates, which in turn controls its potential for long-term stabilization as cratonic nuclei. Here, we show via petrological modeling that hydrous Archean mafic crust metamorphosed in a non-plate tectonic regime produces individual pulses of magma with major-, minor-, and trace-element signatures resembling—but not always matching—natural Archean TTGs. Critically, magma hybridization due to co-mingling and accumulation of multiple melt fractions during ascent through the overlying crust eliminates geochemical discrepancies identified when assuming that TTGs formed via crystallization of discrete melt pulses. We posit that much Archean continental crust is made of hybrid magmas that represent up to ~ 40 vol% of partial melts produced along thermal gradients of 50–100 °C/kbar, characteristic of overthickened mafic Archean crust at the head of a mantle plume, crustal overturns, or lithospheric peels.




Hernández-Montenegro, J. D., Palin, R. M., Zuluaga, C. A., & Hernández-Uribe, D. (2021). Archean continental crust formed by magma hybridization and voluminous partial melting. Scientific Reports, 11(1).

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