Early Archaean Isua supracrustal belt,West Greenland: pilot study of the Isua Multidisciplinary Research Project
The Isua belt of 3.8–3.7 Ga metavolcanic and metasedimentary rocks, is located 150 km north-east of Nuuk, within the Archaean gneiss complex of West Greenland. Most of this gneiss complex consists of late Archaean rocks with a minor component of early Archaean age, including the oldest known supracrustal rocks on Earth. The Isua belt contains the best preserved of the oldest supracrustal components and is therefore of vital importance in providing information on the oldest known terrestrial environments and a prospective locality in which to search for the earliest traces of life on Earth (Mojzsis et al. 1996). The Isua Multidisciplinary Research Project (IMRP) aims to coordinate a reinvestigation of the geology of the Isua belt and adjacent tonalitic gneisses with a broad-based, diversely skilled, international research team. IMRP is supported by the Danish Natural Science Research Council, the Commission for Scientific Research in Greenland and the Minerals Office of the Greenland Government (from 1998, the Bureau of Minerals and Petroleum). The project began in 1997 with a pilot study of the north-east sector of the Isua belt to test the feasibility of reinvestigating the early Archaean geology on the basis of new mapping. Five weeks of field work were carried out by a core of four geologists (P.W.U.A, C.M.F., S.M., J.S.M.) augmented by visits of shorter duration by G. Arrhenius, A. Hofmann, V.R. McGregor, S. Mojzsis, R.K. O’Nions and H.K. Schønwandt. This report outlines the geological background to the current study and the results of the 1997 pilot project.
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