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Origin & Evolution of Earth's Crust

Origin & Evolution of Earth's Crust

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Published by Sanjeev Kumar

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Published by: Sanjeev Kumar on Mar 03, 2013
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07/12/2013

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Origin and Evolution of theEarth’s Crust
EAS 302 Lecture 9
Two Kinds of Crust
Oceanic
 –Thin (~6 km) –Fairly uniform –Basaltic
Dark, volcanic rock, rich inMg, Fe
 –Dense (~2.9 g/cc) –impermanent
Continental
 –Thick (~35 km on average) –Heterogeneous –“Granitic” - more properly“granodioritic”
(light colored igneous rock,rich in Al, Si)
 –Less Dense (2.7 g/cc) –Permanent?
 
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Oceanic Crust
Oceanic crust covers 60% of surfaceContinually created by sea-floospreadingOrigin and Fate closedly linked to platetectonics - which will cover in comingweeks.Today, let’s focus on Continental Crust.
Origin and Evolution of theContinental Crust
Questions
 –When did the crust form? –How did the crust form?
Some possible hypotheses
 –(1) Crust formed early from a late accretionaryveneer (of more volatile elements) –(2) Crust formed early by crystallization of anearly magma ocean (Moon’s crust appears tohave formed this way) –(3) Crust formed by magmatism through time
(Related to what geological process?)
 
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Testing the hypotheses
Hypothesis (1) predicts crust should beold and rich in volatile elementsHypothesis (2) predicts crust should beold and rich in incompatible elementsHypothesis (3) predicts crust should beyounger and rich in incompatibleelements
Composition of the Crust
While the crust is rich insome (moderately)volatile elements suchas the alkalis (Na, K,Rb), these elements arealso incompatibleOn the whole, the crustis clearly enriched inincompatible elements(elements concentratedin melts). This isillustrated by the REE.From its composition,we can conclude thecrust was created bymagmatism.

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