Analyses of chemical sedimentary precipitates such as banded iron formation (BIF) provide a direct means to explore the nature and composition of the early hydrosphere. The recently discovered > 3750. Myr old Nuvvuagittuq Supracrustal Belt (NSB) in the Northeast Superior Province (Québec, Canada) hosts a suite of iron oxide-rich (± pyroxene and amphibole) units that are interpreted to be the metamorphosed equivalents of Fe oxide-facies BIF, and a collection of BIF-like Ca-Fe-Mg silicate rocks. The NSB rocks provide a rare glimpse of trace metal availability in Eoarchean (ca. 3800. Ma) seawater. As they may be contemporaneous with the relatively well-studied Isua Supracrustal Belt of southern West Greenland, their comparison provides an opportunity to enhance our basic understanding of the Eoarchean oceans at a global scale. Work since the initial discovery of the NSB in 2001 has established the basic lithological, geochemical and petrographic characteristics of these BIF and BIF-like rocks. Here we review the current state of knowledge of NSB rocks of probable chemical sedimentary origin, including aspects of their geology, likely origin and age. We conclude by examining the implications of results thus far for our understanding of early seawater compositions, and for the emergence of life in the context of early metallo-enzyme evolution.
- Banded iron formation
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