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Maharashtra Tectonics

Maharashtra Tectonics

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Published by: Harish Kulkarni on Jun 18, 2012
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Quaterna O' International,
Vol. 26, pp. 131-137, 1995.Copyright © 1995 INQUA/Elsevier Science Ltd,Printed in Great Britain. All rights reserved.1040~5182/95 $29.00
R.K. Sukhtankar
Department of Geology, Shivaji University, Centre for P.G. Studies, Solapur 413 003, India
The Maharashtra Coast is part of the central west coast of the tectonically 'passive' and 'divergent' Western Continental Margin of India.Major tectonic elements that characterize the region are the West Coast Fault and the Panvel Flexure. These features have played a majorrole in the development of coastal geomorphic features, which have been further modified by marine and fluvial processes. Neotectonism isexpressed in associated raised marine terraces. The coastal tract of Maharashtra has been divided in three geomorphic blocks on the basis ofthe role of tectonic elements and spatial distribution of various geomorphic features.
Coastal geomorphology studies along the world'scoastlines have increased in the last few decades, as a resultof interest in climatic changes during the Quaternary andresearch of tectonic event periodicy of earthquake hazardprediction, the evidence of which appears in the form ofmorphologic features. On the basis of morphologic features,a framework for geodynamic modelling of coastal evolutionwas suggested by Fairbridge and Finkl (1988). The world'scoastlines were classified in three types; emerging,submerging and quasi-stable, each exhibiting an associationof characteristic geomorphic features. Evolution ofmorphologic features is due to changes in sea-level duringthe Quaternary, as a result of glacial, eustatic or tectonicinfluences. Each influence has acted either independently orin possible combination. To single out the specific results ofany of these influences in the development and evolution ofcoastal features is a difficult task.Evolution of coastal geomorphic features of a particularcoastline should be analyzed by considering its tectonicsetting and tectonic evolution, lithology of coastal rocks orsediments and glacio-eustasy and Quaternary coastaltransgressional and regressional responses to sea-levelchange. It is generally accepted that the presentconfiguration of many continental margins and the coastlinesare a result of their differential displacement after the break-up of Gondwanaland, according to the plate tectonicsconcept. Continental margins are classified as either activeor passive. Considering this aspect as a primary andfundamental basis for evolution of a coastline, a combinationof glacial eustasy, neotectonism and coastal erosionalprocesses has later modified and shaped most coastlines.Using these criteria, the evolution of the Maharashtracoastline on the Western Continental Margin of India isanalyzed and discussed.
The coastline of the east and west coasts of India extendsnearly 6000 km. The plate tectonics concept suggests that theIndian subcontinent was separated from Gondwanalandalong two main geofractures, giving rise to the coastline. Ofthese, the west coast has developed along the westerncontinental margin, which has followed the NNW-SSEtrend, which began in the Precambrian (Biswas, 1982). Thewest coast is recognized as the trailing margin of theadvancing Indian subcontinent. The Maharashtra coastconstitutes the central part of the west coast and lies alongthe western continental margin of India. It extends for adistance of about 500 km from lat. 15 °, 45' N (Vengurla) tolat. 19 °, 30' N (north of Bombay) (Fig. 1). Most of the areaalong the Maharashtra coast has been covered by the vastoutpourings of the Deccan flood basaltic lava flows, whileonly a small part of the southern tract exposes the Archaeanmetamorphics, granites and gneisses and the Proterozoicsediments.
The coastal tract being examined for its geomorphicevolutionary history is known as 'Kokan'. It also includesthe coastal lowlands of Maharashtra. The coastline extendsmore or less N-S and is bounded to the west by the ArabianSea and to the east by the scarps of the Western Ghatsmountain range. The coastal tract broadens in the north to awidth of about 100 km and gradually narrows southwards toa width of about 30-40 km. The eastern cliffs rise to amaximum height of more than 1000 m. Major rivers, viz.,Kundalika, Savitri, Shastri, Vashishti and numerous streams,originate in the Western Ghats, flow westwards, have steepgradient courses and discharge into the Arabian Sea. Theserivers have carved out deep valleys in their catchments in theWestern Ghats and have formed relatively broad plains attheir mouths. In places, the coastal tract is intersected bypromontories of the Western Ghats.As the coastal tract falls in a transitional environment, itis subjected to both fluvial and marine erosional anddepositional processes, producing coastal and floodplaingeomorphic features. In addition, sea-level changes duringthe Quaternary period have modified the coastline. Anumber of workers have documented a variety of131
132 R.K. Sukhlankar18°00'
17 °
00'16°00'BOMBAYh( rLReva sAlihag (,( ~Pen(~-.~ Kundlika~,/.~
~ MahadSrivardhanlb\ [ h-headland
, I \ lb -linear beach
Dabhol ~Chiplun pb- pocket beach
~'~ Pb /Jxlver /
\ 'V
Ratnagiri ~
" ( -'X" Lanja ,'ldurlb ~R /Vqay ajapur
h ~ '~ Gad
pb arli/ ~ Sawantwadi
0 Km 35 Vengurla x~ ~
73 °
t x ~J
11 %xI~s
0i Kml60t)FIG. I. I.ocalion map.geomorphic features along the Maharashtra coast, whichprovide evidence of sea-level changes (Chatterjee, 1961;Ahmed, 1972; Dikshit, 1976: Nair, 1974: Powar
1978,1979a, b; Tiwari, 1984; Kale and Rajaguru, 1985; Bruckner,1987; Sukhtankar, 1989). Most of these studies discussgeomorphology of the coastal tract in relation to either sea-level changes or neotectonism. In this paper, the distributionof geomorphic features will be analyzed in the context of themajor tectonic elements and tectonic setting•TECTONIC SETTINGOnce separated from Gondwanaland, the northward driftof the Indian subcontinent included counter-clockwiserotation during the Eocene, possibly of about 50 degrees(Klootwijk, 1979; Powell, 1979: Biswas, 1982). Such riftingand associated counter-clockwise rotation are thought tohave produced the various major tectonic elemenls,associated with the west coast of India and the outpouringsof the continental tholeiitic flood basalts. The geomorphicfeatures of the coastal tract are developed on these volcanicdeposits.Gravity, seismic, geomagnetic surveys and LANDSATimagery studies for petroleum exploration in the offshoreand onshore areas of the west coast have revealedcomplexities in the tectonic setting of the western continentalmargin (Eremenko and Dutta, 1968; Kailasam
et al.,
1972:Harbison and Bassinger, 1973; Guha
et al..
1974a,b;Balkrishnan and Sharma, 1981; Kaila
et al.,
et al.,
1981). On the basis of such studies,Chandrasekharam (1985) modelled the structure andevolution of the Western Continental Margin of India.A number of horsts, grabens and faults have developedalong this trailing margin of the advancing Indiansubcontinent. Prominent structural elements, in the tectonicand geomorphic evolution of the Maharashtra coast, are the
Evolutionary Model based on Geomorphologic and Tectonic Characteristics
No 15 30
L~. 1.
-- N20'Bombay [ff
il I
// ~'/"
WCFWest Coast Fault
, v%. ~ ~Srivardhan"-'-- Sahyadri scarpline J ~~-:"5:::' "Lineaments on land Z ~%r~- - - Submarine lineaments
-- P Panvel flexure i.S-- S Scarpline lineaments ...... Limits of sedimentation ': .Dip direction of flows ......... ba+ Hot springs ~_. ~,RiversKundalika River
t/\ \s ,
F' • ~
FIG. 2. Major lineaments inferred from LANDSAT imageries.
West Coast Fault and the Panvel Flexure, which run nearlyparallel to the coast (Fig. 2). Both these elements trend in aNNW-SSE direction, which is a typical Precambrian trendin Peninsular India (Biswas, 1982).The axis of the Panvel Flexure (Auden, 1949) exposedwest of the Western Ghats, has been extended by Das andRay (1977) further south along a line of hot springs.However, from LANDSAT imagery studies and datacollected in the field, Powar
et al.
(1978, 1979a) have shownthat the Panvel Flexure dies out in the Kolaba district in thenorthern part of the area a.nd does not extend further south(Fig. 2). Basaltic lava flows to the west of the flexure axisnear Bombay dip by about 10 to 12 degrees towards west.Further south, near Alibag, flows dip by about 5 to 7 degreestowards west; while south of the Kundalika River, flows arehorizontal.The location of the West Coast Fault has been the subjectof much controversy. It has been thought to be located alongthe west coast (Krishnan, 1953); 10 km offshore (Auden,1975) and 25 km offshore (Gubin, 1969); Guha (1974a)mapped the fault at a distance of about 7 to 20 km offshore;whereas, Guha
et al.
(1974b) show the fault parallel to thecoast and cutting across the promontories. Powar
et al.
(1978) observed evidence of faulting at Sasaune, south ofBombay on the west coast of Maharashtra and suggested thatthe fault is located along the coastline. The distribution ofgeomorphic features will be analyzed in context of the majorfaulting structure regime outlined above.
The coastal tract constitutes a transitional environmentand exhibits geomorphic features of both fluvial and marineorigin. Geomorphic features fall into the followingcategories;(I) Marine -- Erosional:Headlands, creeks, tidal inlets, wave-cut platforms, sea-cliffs, sea-caves, sea-stacks and islands.Depositional:Estuaries and rias, tidal and mud flats, sandy beach,pocket beach, sand bars and sand spits, tombolo, raisedmarine terraces.(II) Fluvial -- Erosional:Hill ranges and valleys, waterfalls, planar surfaces.River terraces, alluvial plains.(III) Aeolian -- Depositional:Beach dunes.A variety of the geomorphic features are presented in Fig.

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