Palaeomagnetism argue against a stable supercontinent during the Archaean-Proterozoic transition

Liu Yebo1, Mitchell Ross N.2,1, Li Zheng-Xiang1, Kirscher Uwe1,3, Pisarevsky Sergei A1,4, and Wang Chong1,2,5

1Earth Dynamics Research Group, The Institute for Geoscience Research (TIGeR), School of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Curtin University, Bentley, Western Australia, 6102, Australia; 2State Key Laboratory of Lithospheric Evolution, Institute of Geology and Geophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100029, China; 3Department of Geosciences, University of Tübingen, Sigwartstr. 10, 72076 Tübingen, Germany; 4Institute of the Earth’s Crust, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Irkutsk 664033, Russia; 5Department of Geosciences and Geography, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

Many Archaean cratons exhibit Proterozoic rifted margins, implying they were pieces of some ancestral landmass(es). The idea that such an ancient continental assembly represents an Archaean supercontinent has been proposed, but remains to be justified. Starkly contrasting geological records between different clans of cratons have inspired an alternative hypothesis where cratons were clustered in multiple, separate “supercratons”. A new palaeomagnetic pole from the Yilgarn Craton of Australia, when compared with available coeval poles globally, is compatible with either two successive but ephemeral supercontinents, or two stable supercratons across the Archaean-Proterozoic transition. Neither interpretation supports the existence of a single, long-lived supercontinent, suggesting that Archaean geodynamics were fundamentally different from subsequent times (Proterozoic-present), which were influenced largely by supercontinent cycles.


Yebo Liu is currently a member of the Earth Dynamic Research Group at Curtin University. His main research interests are palaeogeography reconstructions using geological and palaeomagnetic investigations. Studying the secular variation of Earth magnetic field and the deep Earth process using paleointensity.

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