Palaeomagnetic reconstruction of continental plates: A brief study on Indian subcontinent using world palaeomagnetic database
The Earth acts as a giant bar magnet with Geocentric Axial Dipole (GAD) almost parallel to its rotational axis. Presence of this geomagnetic field leads the minerals with different magnetic properties (e.g. ferro-, para-, diamagnetism etc.) to orient themselves throughout the surface of the globe during deposition/crystallisation. The geomagnetic orientation data (i.e. inclination) act as markers to identify the palaeolatitude of the continents at the time of acquisition of magnetic polarity. The current site data combined with the inclination and declination data one can find the Virtual Geomagnetic Pole (VGP) position correspoding to the paleolatitude. The positions of Indian Subcontinent against the available VGP are reconstructed with specific time frame. The Precambrian data from the North Indian Block and South Indian Block indicate the ~1.9 Ga collision and formation of Central Indian Tectonic Zone related to the Satpura Orogeny. The Neoproterozoic reconstruction shows the position of India, West Australia and East Antarctica. A collisional orogeny had taken place around 1.1 Ga. This is probably the time of evolution of Eastern Ghat Mobile belt. During Mesozoic and Cenozoic Era, Indian block was moving rapidly towards north and collided with the Eurasian Plate.
Keywords: virtual geomagnetic pole, palaeolatitude, palaeoproterozoic, neoproroterozoic, phanerozoic
|VGP||Virtual Geomagnetic Pole|
|NIB||North Indian Block|
|SIB||South Indian Block|
|SIWA||South India- West Autralia|
|CITZ||Central Indian Tectonic Zone|
|Ga||Billion Years/ Giga Annum|
|Ma||Million Years/ Mega Annum|
The Earth is thought to have an initial molten state after its formation. Since the beginning of the solidification of the molten crust, the continental blocks have changed their positions throughout the geological time. There were many phases of continental separation when floating crustal masses were broken up to form different paleo-oceans or collided to form supercontinents (e.g. Columbia, Rhodinia, Gondwana, etc.) or gave rise to new suture zones and mountain belts (e.g. Central Indian Tectonic zone, Palaghat Cauvery Shear Zone, Satpura Orogen, Eastern Ghats Orogen, Himalayan Orogen, etc.). Roger and Santosh (2002) and Zhao et al. (2002) identified the presence of a supercontinent “Columbia” during 2.1-1.8 Ga. After breaking of this Palaeoproterozoic continents, and subsequent amalgamation of different blocks the supercontinent Rhodinia was formed in the Neoproterozoic period of 1.3-0.9 Ga. Rhodinia Supercontinent started to break up at 825 Ma. The major rifting took place at 750 Ma, and continued up to 530 Ma, until the complete formation of the Gondwana Supercontinent (Li et al., 2008). It is very important to identify the position of different continental blocks with respect to the events of continental collision and separation to perceive the knowledge of biological evolutions and geotectonic events in geological past. Many methods like petrological identity, isotope analysis, palaeontological evidences, palaeomagnetic reconstruction, etc. have been adopted to understand the crustal changes in the past, and several hypotheses have been advocated.
The paleomagnetic magnetic reconstructions are based of the principle that the Earth has a liquid outer core and due to the movement of that liquid ferromagnesian material in outer core, a moderate to strong magnetic field is created;the Earth itself acts as a giant bar magnet or Geocentric Axial Dipole (GAD). This magnetic dipole is nearly parallel to the rotational axis of the Earth and keeps changing its orientation. The minerals with different magnetic properties (e.g. ferromagnetic, paramagnetic, diamagnetic etc.) get aligned in the presence of this geomagnetic field during deposition or crystallization. The geometric representation of the alignment of these magnetisms can be useful to identify the past geomagnetic pole position and palaeolatitude (or the latitude where the rock was actually formed). The Virtual Geomagnetic Pole (VGP) is a concept which is very useful for reconstructing the pole position of a sampling site during the geologic past. From a series of VGPs of different geologic ages, an apparent polar wandering curve can be drawn. Reciprocating the VGPs, actual position of those site in past can be reconstructed. By using palaeomagnetic data, the path of today’s Indian subcontinent through the geological past can be reconstructed. The reconstruction of continental mass in the Phanerozoic period gives reliable results for areas with no deformation and metamorphism, but the Precambrian palaeomagnetic data are not that much reliable because of intense tectonic deformations and metamorphism. Some undeformed and unmetamorphosed dykes and magnetic mineral complexes are present in the Precambrian cratonic areas. The palaeomagnetic data obtained from these rocks are very crucial to reconstruct the continental positions older than the Cambrian age.
The peninsular India has four Precambrian cratons, the Aravalli-Bundelkhand craton in the north of Central Indian Tectonic Zone (CITZ), and the Bastar, Singhbhum and Dharwar cratons in the south of CITZ. The palaeomagnetic data from these cratons can be used to understand their relative positions in the past and the time of the Precambrian orogeny, i.e. the Satpura Orogeny by collision of South Indian Block (SIB) and North Indian Block (NIB) (Bundelkhand versus Bastar-Singhbhum-Dharwar craton) along the CITZ. Further, the evolution of the Eastern Ghat Orogeny can be traced from the paleomagnetic data combined with the geochronological data. For this we have used the Western Australian and the East Antarctic cratons which were adjacent to India in the reconstruction of Rodinia. We shall try to reconstruct the position of the different cratons of the Indian subcontinent from the Precambrian age to the Recent using the VGP data. To calculate the VGPs, inclinations, and declinations are required along with the geographic latitude and longitude of the sampling site. The best palaeomagnetic data are collected from unmetamorphosed and undeformed magnetic mineral deposits or rock suites like Iron ore complexes, volcanic traps, mafic dykes, and Fe-rich sedimentary rocks.
General Geological setting of the cratons related to the palaeomagnetic reconstruction of the Indian subcontinent
The Bundelkhand is the triangular Archaean-Palaeoproterozoic craton (Fig. 1) present between the latitudes 240 30’N and 260 00’N and longitudes 770 30’E and 810 00’E with an area of ∼29,000 km2 (Sharma, 1998). The Great Boundary Fault is present in the west of the Bundelkhand Craton; the north-eastern side of this craton is delimited by the Indo-Gangetic alluvial plains and the south and south eastern part is bounded by the Narmada–Son lineament. The south western margin is marked by the Deccan Basalt. Palaeoproterozoic rocks of the Bijawar and Gwalior Groups are exposed in the SW and NE parts of the craton. The arcuate Vindhyan basin overlies the craton in the south and south-eastern sections (Goodwin, 1991; Naqvi and Rogers, 1987; Pati et al., 2008; Meert et al., 2010, Pradhan et al., 2011). This craton has highly deformed granite greenstone Archaean basement (~3.5 Ga) and 2.5 Ga old granitic plutons and quartz reefs. Along with the felsic suit, mafic dykes and dyke swarms are also present in this craton (Sharma and Rahman, 2000). Three mafic dyke swarms intruded this Archaean-Palaeoproterozoic basement. The older dykes of 2.15-1.5 Ga (Rao, 2004; Rao et al., 2005; Basu, 1986; Sarkar et al., 1997; Sharma and Rahman, 1996), and the Great Dyke of Mahoba (age 1.1-1.0 Ga) provide paleomagnetic and precise geochronological data to reconstruct paleo-positions of the craton in Proterozoic. (Pradhan et al., 2012).
The Archaean-Palaeoproterozoic Singhbhum craton (Fig.1) spreads over the East Singhbhum, West Singhbhum, Saraikela-Kharswan districts of Jharkhand and Mayurbhanj and Kendujhargarh districts of north Odisha and occupies an area of approximately 50,000 sq. km. The triangular Singhbhum craton is delimited to the north by the North Singhbhum Mobile Belt (NSMB), the Eastern Ghats Belt to the southeast and the Bastar craton to the southwest (Saha, 1994). The craton is composed of Older Metamorphic Group (OMG) with green schist- to amphibolites-facies supracrustals and tonalite–trondhjemite–granodiorite, Singhbhum Granite Complex with granitoids and tonalities (SGC) and Iron Ore Group (IOG) the green schist facies platformal sediments and banded iron formations interlayered with mafic and felsic volcanic rocks (Kumar et al., 2017).
The Bastar craton is a 500 km2 crustal block in south-east India (Fig.1). It is delimited to the north by CITZ and to the southeast by the Eastern Ghats Mobile Belt. The eastern boundary is defined by Mahanadi Rift and the Godavari Rift is present in the western boundary (Ramakrishnan and Vaidyanadhan, 2008). The undifferentiated crystalline gneissic basement is about 3.51 Ga old (Sarkar et al., 1993). There is also a supracrustals component with phyllite, schist, quartzite, meta-carbonate and interbedded meta-basalts though their stratigraphic position is debated (Ghosh, 1941, Crookshank, 1963). Mafic dyke swarm with trend NW-SE to WNW-ESE is present in the Archaean-Palaeoproterozoic basement of the Bastar craton (Meert et al., 2011). Both metamorphosed and unmetamorphosed mafic dykes are present. It indicated two different emplacement events (Crookshank, 1963). Three major suites of mafic dykes were identified which include the older suite of metamorphosed amphibolite dykes, an younger suite of fresh or unmetamorphosed dolerite dykes and a suite of high-Mg boninite dykes (Ramchandra et al., 1995; Srivastava and Singh, 2003, 2004). .
The Dharwar craton (Fig. 1) is demarcated by the Deccan Traps in the north, the Eastern Ghats and the Godavari Rift in the east, the Arabian Sea in the west, and the Southern Granulite Terrane in the south (Rogers, 1986; Naqvi and Rogers, 1987). The Dharwar protocontinent consisting Dharwar, Bastar, and Singhbhum cratons, is separated from the northern Banded Gneiss Complex (Aravalli-Bundelkhand protocontinent) by the CITZ (French and Heaman, 2010). The Dharwar craton is subdivided into eastern (EDC) and western (WDC) craton by N-S trending Closepet Granite (Friend and Nutman, 1991; Ramakrishnan and Vaidyanadhan, 2008; Naqvi and Rogers, 1987).
The East Antarctic Craton is a high-grade metamorphic terrain which is exposed along the coastal belt of the Enderby Land, Kemp Land, Mac Robertson Land and Princess Elizabeth Land (Mohanty, 2015). It is a Precambrian high grade polymetamorphic terrain with at least three orogenic events. The Mawson Craton which is composed of Terre Adélie terrane, Miller Range, and other tectonic units surrounding them, has been conjoined with the Gawler Craton of Australia in the so-called Mawsonland configuration (Fig. 2) since Archaean (Liu et al., 2018) and considered to remain connected with the Western Australia until the breakup of Pangaea at ~85 Ma (Seton et al., 2012).
The Yilgran Craton of Western Australia is one of the oldest continental crusts of world (Figs 2, 3). The craton is divided into five subdivisions, namely the Narryer Gneissic Terrane, the Murchison Province, Southwest Province, Southern Cross Province and the Eastern Goldfield Province. The Narryer Gneissic Terrane (3.6-3.8 Ga) has Manfred Complex, Meeberrie Gneiss, Dugel Gneiss, and younger gneisses and metasediments. The Manfred Complex comprises layered mafic-ultramafic complexes of age ~3.73 Ga (Kinny et al., 1988). Banded gneiss of monzogranitic composition, the Meeberrie Gneiss (3.68 Ga, Kinny et al., 1988) is unconformably overlain by a high grade metasedimentary sequence. Many mafic dike swarms of Palaeoproterozoic to Neoproterozoic age are also present in the Yilgarn craton (Myers, 1995; Şengör and Natal, 1996; Chen et al., 2003; Collins, 2003; Evans et al., 2003; Cawood and Tyler, 2004; Halilovic et al., 2004; Occhipinti et al., 2004; Sheppard et al., 2004; Cassidy et al., 2006; Mohanty, 2015)
Geomagnetic data are generated by various researchers throughout the world since the middle of the 20th century. We have taken the palaeomagnetic data for different cratons of India from various published papers. Good number of Palaeomagnetic data are available for the post Palaeozoic rocks in Indian subcontinent. National Geophysical Data Centre (NGDC) has also made an online archive of World Palaeomagnetic Database with the help of Geological Survey of Norway. The data from this databse were also used for reconstructions.
Plotting the palaeoposition against the calculated VGP’s is done primarily to reconstruct the past continental position. The data have been used with the help of the software GMAP 2003 (Torsvik, 2003). By superimposing the position at different time, we get the relative positions of the continents on the earth’s crust. Later, the positions are compared with the published data from different papers to draw conclusions.
|SITE||AGE||VGP LAT ( in Degrees E)||VGP LONG ( in Degrees N)||REFERENCE|
|Phanerozoic||Upper Siwalik Sediments, Bhittani Range, Pakistan||0-2 Ma||73.56||255.46||Khan and Opdyke, 1981|
|Ladakh Intrusive, Kargil||46-50 Ma||62.7||249.7||Klootwijk et al., 1979|
|Deccan Trap, Dhar Region||61-67 Ma||29||293||Rao and Bhalla, 1981|
|Deccan Trap, Aurangabad||63-68 Ma||33||287||Athavale and Anjaneyulu, 1972|
|Gondwana Dyke||65-105 Ma||33||295||Athavale and Verma, 1970|
|Precambrian||Mahoba Dyke, Bundelkhand||1113± 7 Ma||-37.8||049.5||Pradhan et al., 2012|
|Dolerite Dyke, Singhbhum Craton||1780-1880 Ma||23.2||169.9||Subba Rao and Radhakrishna Murthy, 1985|
|Bastar Dykes, Bastar Craton||1.88 Ga||31||330||Meert et al., 2011|
|Dharwar Dykes, Dharwar Craton||1.88 Ga||37||334||Belica et al., 2014|
|Older Dyke, Bundelkhand Craton||1979± 9 Ma||58.5||312.5||Pradhan et al., 2012|
|SITE||AGE||VGP LAT (IN DEGREES N)||VGP LONG (IN DEGREES E)|
|Bangemall Sill Pole, Western Australia||1070 Ma||-83.7||129||Wingate et al., 2002|
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
Precambrian Reconstruction of the Indian Subcontinent
The basement of Archaean Bundelkhand Craton is composed of 3.5 Ga old tonalite–trondhjhemite gneiss (Mondal et al., 2002). This craton forms the North Indian Block which is present in the north of Central Indian Tectonic Zone and Satpura Range. The present day South Indian Block is composed of three Archaean cratons namely Bastar, Singhbhum and Dharwar craton. From the palaeomagnetic study of basic dykes of South India (SI) and Yilgran Craton of West Australia shows that he SIB was connected with the West Australian (WA) craton in Archaean age (Mohanty, 2010). But SI got separated from WI in Palaeo Proterozoic (Mohanty, 2011). The Fig. 4 shows the Archaean assembly of SIWA. The Columbian Supercontinent configuration (Fig. 7) by Zhao et al. (2002, 2004) shows the dispersal of SI-WA by 1.8 Ga.
Evolution of CITZ
The palaeomagnetic study by Pradhan et al. (2012) on the two suites of mafic dykes in Bundelkhand basement provides the data for our palaeomagnetic reconstruction. The older dyke suite has a concordia age 1.98 Ga and the younger dykes or Great Dyke of Mahoba has concordia age of 1.11 Ga. The palaeolatitudes corresponding to them are equatorial and 210 S, respectively. Mean VGP calculated for these dykes are 58.5 0N, 312.5 0E and 38.70S, 49.50E, respectively.
The study of Meert et al. (2011) has shown the 1.88 Ga dykes of Bastar craton with VGP 31° N, 330° E. The position of the craton was at very low latitude in southern hemisphere (~ 70 S). The study from Dharwar dykes (Belica et al., 2014) shows VGP at 290 N and 1950 E. The palaeolatitude at this point of time was also same as the Bastar dykes. The Newer Dolerite dykes (1.78-1.88 Ga) of the Singhbhum Craton were studied by Subba Rao and Radhakrishna Murthy (1985). This study gives the palaeolatitude of Singhbhum which is quite similar to that of the Bastar craton. The VGP was at 23.20 N, 169.90 E.
The reconstruction using the VGP with GMAP 2003 (Torsvik, 2003) shows proximal relation between SIB and NIB at ~1.9 Ga (Fig. 5 ). The Dharwar and Bastar craton were already welded before 1.88 Ma, found from the overlapping position of these two craton. The Singhbhum craton is also having a neighbouring position, which needs some rotational correction. The SIB moved toward the NIB and juxtaposed with it forming a collisional boundary. So the initiation of the Satpura Orogeny and formation of CITZ was around 1.9 Ga (Palaeoproterozoic age).
The formation of the Eastern Ghats was analysed by examining the positions of India and Western Australia at ~2.4 Ga (Fig. 4), the paleomagnetic data from the mafic dykes of ~1.8 Ga in the Bastar craton and Western Australia (Fig. 6) indicate that the SIB moved away from the Western Australia , and a palaeo Indian Ocean was created at the position of the Eastern Ghats (Fig. 6). This ocean was closed later to form the Eastern Ghats by the collision between India and Antarctica (Mohanty, 2015).
Evolution of Eastern Ghat Mobile Belt
Eastern Ghat Mobile Belt is a long narrow high grade metamorphic terrane (granulite facies) along the East coast of India. The UHT metasedimentary rocks and granitoid batholithic emplacements proves a collisional tectonic origin. The Peak UHT metamorphic event took place at ~ 1.2-1.0 Ga. (Pant and Dasgupta, 2017). This metamorphism is similar to the 0.9 Ga. Mawson charnockites of East Antarctica (Young et al., 1997, Halpin et al., 2012)
After separation of SIWA (Mohanty, 2010), the palaeo Indian Ocean was formed. The sedimentation rate in this basin was high at 1.4 – 1.2 Ga (Upadhyay et al., 2009, Pant and Dasgupta, 2017). The palaeomagnetic reconstruction of India at 1.1 Ga was made by using the VGP of Mahoba Dyke, Bundelkhand craton (Pradhan et al., 2012). The NIB and SIB were already juxtaposed far before 1.1 Ga. So, the data from NIB represents the position of Indian Subcontinent in Neoproterozoic age. There is palaeomagnetic data available for west Australia in Neoproterozoic. The palaeomagnetic data from Bangemall Sill, Western Australia shows VGP of 83.70 S and 1290 E at 1.07Ga (Wingate et al., 2002).
The position of India was at less than 210 S latitude and Australian block was at Northern hemisphere with little higher latitude (Fig. 8 ). Because of unavailability of VGP from East Antarctica at ~ 1.1 Ga., the possible position of this block is shown in dotted line. Liu et al. (2018) have stated that Western Australia and East Antarctica were connected since the Archaean age and were not separated before Gondwana Breakup in Mesozoic age. So, from the East Gondwana set up of Western Australia and East Antarctica (Fig. 2 and 3), Mawsonland arrangement (Liu et al., 2018) has been used to reconstruct the East Antarctica at 1.1 Ga. (Liu et al., 2018). The very recent study of Liu et al. (2018) provides one VGP for Mesoproterozoic Mawsonland which was collected from Bunger Hill Dykes. Their study confirms the Proterozoic vicinity of West Australia and East Antarctica. The early Rhodinia supercontinental configuration ( Fig. 9) is also conformable with this reconstruction (Pradhan et al., 2012, Weil et al., 1998). Therefore it can be assumed that the major collision between East Antarctica and India had already been started at ~ 1.1 Ga and the palaeo-ocean was closing by this time. The sediments of this basin accreted and faced an active margin related orogeny (Eastern ghat Mobile Belt).
Mesozoic-Cenozoic position of the Indian Subcontinent
A large change in latitude was observed during this period (Fig. 10). At the present time, India is lying at an average Latitude of 230N. The Palaeomagnetic study of Gondwana dykes from Damodar valley shows a Palaeolatitude of 320 S (Athavale and Verma, 1970). The VGP calculated here is 33 0N, 295 0E. The age of these dykes are about 105-65 Ma i.e. Cretaceous (Late Mesozoic). So, there is a huge change of ~500 in latitudinal position with in only 105 Ma since the Gondwana separation. The palaeomagnetic data from Palaeogene Deccan volcanics of Aurangabad (63-68 Ma) and Dhar Region (61-67 Ma) shows VGP values of 33 0N, 287 0E and 29 0N, 293 0E respectively ( Athavale and Anjaneyulu, 1972 and Rao and Bhalla, 1981). The palaeolatitude for these two traps were nearly 290 S, some rotational movements were seen here. From the ladakh Intrusives of Kashmir (46-50 Ma) (Klootwijk et al., 1979), the position of India is found to be near the equator. The VGP values for this region were calculated to be 62.7 0N, 249.7 0E. The Upper Siwalik Sediments of 0-2Ma, shows a palaeolatitude of 160 N and VGP of 73.56 0N, 255.460 E (Khan and Opdyke, 1981).
The Gondwana break up started during late Triassic to Jurassic (180 Ma) age. But the Indian subcontinent got separated from Madagascar ~ 88 Ma ago (Acharyya, 2000). The movement path of Indian Subcontinent is reconstructed here which shows a rotation followed by drifting (Fig. 10 ). 46-50 Ma spatial data represents the position of India during the early stage of continental collision (Dewey et al., 1989) between Indian Plate and Tibetan Plate. The Himalayan Orogeny started hereby.
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION
From the palaeomagnetic data available for Indian subcontinent and West Australian Craton, position of Indian Subcontinent is determined for Phanerozoic, Neoproterozoic and Palaeoproterozoic ages. Formation of the Central Indian Tectonic Zone (CITZ) by the collision between NIB and SIB wasaround ~ 1.9 Ga. The South Indian Bastar and Dharwar cratons were already welded as they have given similar VGP at 1.88 Ga. This NIB and SIB collision gave rise to the Satpura Orogen and a weak zone (CITZ) was present in between the two blocks.
Evolution Eastern Ghat Orogen was initiated by the separation of the Yilgran Craton of West Australia and SIB which were connected in Archaean-Palaeoproterozoic time; the SIB started to move towards the NIB and collided (~1.9) with it by breaking the continental link between Yilgran Craton. This separation gave rise to a palaeo Indian Ocean which was being filled by sediments. By ~ 1.1 Ga., the Mawsonland started to move towards the India and caused the closing of this palaeo-ocean. Due to this accretion and subduction near the eastern margin of India, Eastern Ghat Mobile Belt was formed. There are several phases of magmatic emplacements and tecto-metamorphic events, with the peak metamorphism (UHT) at 1.1-1.0 Ga, which is conformable with the assumption made by palaeomagnetic reconstruction. So, the age of this collisional orogeny is ~1.1 Ga.
Phanerozoic movement of Indian subcontinent: A large change in latitude was observed during the Cretaceous-Tertiary age. The Indian subcontinent got separated from the Madagascar Island at ~ 88 Ma and faced a rotation followed by northward translational movement. The rate of movement was very high at this time.
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I am conveying my cordial gratitude to Dr. Sarada Prasad Mohanty, Professor, IIT (ISM), Dhanbad for guiding me throughout this work. Without his constant help and support, it was not possible to bring up this project. I am blessed to be guided by such an eminent professor with immense knowledge and encouraging behaviour.
I would like to express my sincere thanks to IIT (ISM) Dhanbad authority and Department of Applied Geology for providing me the suitable workplace and accesses during my stay in May-July 2019.
I would like to acknowledge my parents for helping me throughout this journey. Without their support I could stand no where.
Working with Authorcafé was a great experience for me. I’ll like to thank them for providing such a convenient way of expressing the thoughts.
It is my duty to acknowledge the software GMAP 2003 Enterprise edition by T H Torsvik which was used to calculate the results.
Last but not the least I am overwhelmed to be a part of the honourable SRPF 2019 conducted by Indian Academy of Science, Bengaluru; Indian National Science Academy, New Delhi, and The National Academy of Sciences, Allahabad. It was the best platform for me to learn about the scientific research works and carrying out a small project.