Lithosphere Exploration Group (L.E.G)

Over 4.5 billion years, the crust has evolved to form the environment in which we live and the resources on which we depend. It serves as the archive of Earth history, including that of the atmosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere. Yet, when and how the continental crust was generated, the mechanisms of interaction and feedback between the crust and its surficial and deep interfaces, and even whether it provides a representative and sufficient record to answer these questions, are much debated. These questions hinge in large part on uncertainty about the composition and volume of the continental crust through Earth history, which in turn relates to the rate of production and impacts on mechanisms of crustal growth.

How did the Earth go from zero continental crust when it formed to 100% today and how is this linked to the processes operating in the surficial and deep Earth – what is the pulse of the Earth? Was it episodic or continuous? Did it form early in Earth history or has it been continuously produced? Since atmosphere and ocean composition, biosphere evolution, and mineral resources are directly influenced by interactions with the crust, uncertainties in crustal volume (and composition) impact all aspects of the Earth system.

Building on the existing knowledge on the Earth’s crust, together with the world-class infrastructure available Monash University, this group aims to establish the origin and evolution of the continental crust and its role in the long term development of the Earth system under the project ‘Pulse of the Earth’. This is an ARC funded project and is a part of the ARC Laureate Fellowship (LF) awarded to Prof. Peter A. Cawood.