Earth's Oldest Rocks

1st Edition

Editors: Martin van Kranendonk Vickie Bennett Hugh Smithies
Hardcover ISBN: 9780444528100
eBook ISBN: 9780080552477
Imprint: Elsevier Science
Published Date: 24th September 2007
Page Count: 1330
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Earth’s Oldest Rocks provides a comprehensive overview of all aspects of early Earth, from planetary accretion through to development of protocratons with depleted lithospheric keels by c. 3.2 Ga, in a series of papers written by over 50 of the world's leading experts. The book is divided into two chapters on early Earth history, ten chapters on the geology of specific cratons, and two chapters on early Earth analogues and the tectonic framework of early Earth. Individual contributions address topics that range from planetary accretion, a review of Earth meteorites, significance and composition of Hadean protocrust, composition of Archaean mantle and deep crust, all aspects of the geology of Paleoarchean cratons, composition of Archean oceans and hydrothermal environments, evidence and geological settings of early life, early Earth analogues from Venus and New Zealand, and a tectonic framework for early Earth.

Key Features

  • Contains comprehensive reviews of areas of ancient lithosphere on Earth, of planetary accretion processes, and of meteorites
  • Focuses on specific aspects of early Earth, including oldest putative life forms, evidence of the composition of the ancient atmosphere-hydrosphere, and the oldest evidence for subduction-accretion
  • Presents an overview of geological processes and model of the tectonic framework on early Earth


Researchers and advanced undergraduate and graduate students in geology, Precambrian geology, tectonics, geochemistry and petrology, geochronology, and economic geology.

Table of Contents


Preface 1.Aims, scope and outline of the book: Martin J. Van Kranendonk, R. Hugh Smithies, and Vickie Bennett

Chapter 1: Introduction

  1. Overview and history of investigation of early Earth rocks: Brian Windley
  2. The distribution of Paleoarchean crust: Kent Condie

Chapter 2: Planetary accretion and the Hadean to Eoarchaean Earth - Building the Foundation

  1. The formation of the Earth and Moon: Stuart Ross Taylor
  2. Early solar system materials, processes, and chronology: Alex W.R. Bevan
  3. Dynamics of the Hadean and Archean Mantle: Geoff Davies
  4. The enigma of the terrestrial protocrust: Evidence for its former existence and the importance of its complete disappearance: Balz Kamber
  5. The oldest terrestrial mineral record: A review of 4400 to 3900 Ma detrital zircons from Jack Hills, Western Australia: Aaron J. Cavosie, John W. Valley and Simon A. Wilde
  6. Evidence of pre-3100 Ma crust in the Youanmi and South West Terranes, and Eastern Goldfields Superterrane of the Yilgarn Craton: Stephen Wyche

Chapter 3: Eoarchean gneiss complexes

  1. The early Archean Acasta Gneiss Complex: Geological, geochronological and isotopic studies, and implications for early crustal evolution: Iizuka, T., Komiya, T., Ueno, Y. and Maruyama, S.
  2. Ancient Antarctica: The Archean of the East Antarctic Shield: Simon L. Harley and Nigel M. Kelly
  3. The Itsaq Gneiss Complex of southern West Greenland and the construction of Eoarchean crust at convergent plate boundaries: Allen P. Nutman, Clark R.L. Friend, Kenji Horie, and Hiroshi Hidaka
  4. The geology of the 3.8 Ga Nuvvuagittuq (Porpoise Cove) greenstone belt, northeastern Superior Province, Canada: J


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About the Editor

Martin van Kranendonk

Prof. van Kranendonk was born and trained in Canada, receiving his PhD in 1992 and then undertaking a post-doc position at the Geological Survey of Canada from 1992-1994. In 1994, he moved to Australia as an ARC post-doctoral fellow at the University of Newcastle, where he commenced research on the Pilbara. He then joined the Geological Survey of Western Australia in 1997, where he worked for 15 years until the start of 2012, when he accepted a position as Professor of Geology at the University of New South Wales, in Sydney, Australia, where he is the Director of the Australian Centre for Astrobiology. Prof. van Kranendonk is a leading world expert on the early Earth. His main interests are Archean tectonics and the geological setting of early life on Earth. He has appeared on numerous television and radio documentaries on early Earth, and has been involved in educational outreach programs for school children and the general public.

Affiliations and Expertise

Geological Survey of Western Australia, East Perth and Australian Centre for Astrobiology, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia

Vickie Bennett

Dr. Bennett is a senior geochemist at the Research School of Earth Sciences, Australian National University in Canberra, Australia. She received her PhD in 1989 from the University of California, Los Angeles, and began a post-doctoral fellow position at RSES the same year as part of the “First Billion Years” project where she began collaborative investigations of the oldest rocks in Western Australia and southwest Greenland. In 2000 she became the first tenured female faculty member and is currently Associate Director and Head of the Isotope Geochemistry Group at RSES. Dr. Bennett is an international expert on the geochemistry of the early Earth, particularly as applied to understanding the formation and chemical evolution of the crust and mantle and the origin and development of the oldest continents.

Affiliations and Expertise

Australian National University, Canberra ACT 0200, Australia

Hugh Smithies

Affiliations and Expertise

Australian National University, Canberra