Sujoy Mukhopadhyay on Probing the Hadean World with Noble Gases
Listen now
In a recent episode, Nadja Drabon spoke about newly discovered zircon crystals that formed during the late Hadean and early Archean, when the Earth was between 500 million and a billion years old.  The zircons revealed information about processes occurring in the Earth’s nascent crust, casting light on when and how modern-day plate tectonics may have started.  In this episode, we talk about a very different source of information about the early Earth, namely the abundances of noble gases occurring within present-day basalts.  It turns out that these can probe the Earth’s mantle and atmosphere even further back in time – to the first 100 million years of Earth history. Sujoy Mukhopadhyay leads a team of researchers who have developed new techniques for measuring the abundances of noble gas isotopes in a variety of Earth materials.  By combining the results of these measurements with geochemical models, he has shed light on questions about the very early Earth and planet formation that have challenged researchers for decades.  Here we focus on one of these: “Do any structures originating from the very early Earth survive in today’s mantle?” Amazingly, the answer is "yes." Sujoy Mukhopadhyay is Professor of Geochemistry at the University of California, Davis.
More Episodes
We know that most magma originates in the Earth’s mantle. As it pushes up through the many kilometers of lithosphere to the surface, it pauses in one or more magma chambers or partially melted mush zones for periods of up to a few millennia before erupting. But while we have seismic evidence and...
Published 05/06/24
Published 05/06/24
At roughly 15-25-million-year intervals since the Archean, huge volumes of lava have spewed onto the Earth’s surface. These form the large igneous provinces, which are called flood basalts when they occur on continents. As Richard Ernst explains in the podcast, the eruption of a large igneous...
Published 04/10/24