A layered body of amphibolite, banded iron formation (BIF), and ultramafic rocks from the island of Akilia, southern West Greenland, is cut by a quartz-dioritic sheet from which SHRIMP zircon 206Pb/207Pb weighted mean ages of 3865 ± 11 Ma and 3840 ± 8 Ma (2σ) can he calculated by different approaches. Three other methods of assessing the zircon data yield ages of >3830 Ma. The BIFs are interpreted as water-lain sediments, which with a minimum age of ∼ 3850 Ma, are the oldest sediments yet documented. These rocks provide proof that by ∼ 3850 Ma (I) there was a hydrosphere, supporting the chemical sedimentation of BIF, and that not all water was stored in hydrous minerals, and (2) that conditions satisfying the stability of liquid water imply surface temperatures were similar to present. Carbon isotope data of graphitic microdomains in apatite from the Akilia island BIF are consistent with a bio-organic origin (Mojzsis et al. 1996), extending the record of life on Earth to >3850 Ma. Life and surface water by ∼ 3850 Ma provide constraints on either the energetics or termination of the late meteoritic bombardment event (suggested from the lunar cratering record) on Earth.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geochemistry and Petrology