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GEOLOGY

OF
NEPAL
Chapter 7
Ananta MS Pradhan

Introduction
The Indian Plate was moving
gradually towards the Tibetan Plate.
About 40 myrs ago, the Indian
subcontinent came into contact with
the Tibetan Plate and the Tethys sea
retreated gradually.

Indian Plate

Main Geological Subdivisions and large-scale landforms

Block diagram of Himalaya showing main landforms and rock units

Geological Setting and


Major Tectonic Zones of Nepal Himalaya

Tibetan Tethys Zone

----- South Tibetan Detachment ----Higher Himalayan Zone

--------Main Central Thrust -------Lesser Himalayan Zone


------- Main Boundary Thrust ------Sub Himalayan Zone (Churia)

--------- Main Frontal Thrust --------Terai

Generalised geological map of Nepal

Terai Zone
Terai zone is the northern continuation of
the Gangatic plains of India.
It extends the Indo-Nepal boarder in the
south to the base of Churia hills in the
north.
Geologically this zone is composed of
recent alluvium deposits.
The alluvial sediments contain mainly
boulder, gravel, silt and clay
This zone is separated from Siwaliks in
north by Main Frontal Thrust (MFT).

MFT

Siwaliks or Churia (Sub Himalayan Zone)

Sub Himalayan Zone

Rise from northern part of plains of Terai


zone.
Geologically this zone is composed of
loose to consolidated sedimentary rocks
like conglomerate, sandstone, siltstone,
mudstone and marls.
This zone is separated by Main Boundary
Thrust (MBT) in the North from the Lesser
Himalaya.

Characteristics of Main Boundary Thrust

Wide crush
zone
Active fault
Landslideprone area

Lesser Himalayan Zone

MBT observed in Butwal-Tansen section of Siddhartha Highway

Characteristics of Lesser Himalayan Zone


Shales, Sandstones, Slates, Limestones,
Dolomites, phyllites, quartzites
1. Intensely
deformed
rocks
2. Imbricate
faults
3. Wide crush
zones
4. There are
also some
granitic
intrusions in
this zone.

Kapurkot Thrust

The Higher Himalayan zone mainly


consists of huge pile of strongly
metamorphosed rocks.
Granites are found in the upper part of the
unit.

Higher Himalayan Zone

High steep slopes, narrow gorges


High grade metamorphic rocks: gneiss, schist,
migmatite and quartzite

Rock avalanches, snow avalanches, glaciers

Glacier lakes

Glacier lakes
outburst flood
hazards

This zone is separated by Main Central


Thrust (MCT) in the North from Tibetan
Tethys Zone.

Tibetan Tethys Zone

fossiliferous sedimentary rocks: limestone, shale and


sandstone

Undulated terrain

Open east-west folds and faults

Characteristics of
Tethys Zone
a.
b.
c.
d.

Very little precipitation


Bare rock slopes
Soft sedimentary rocks
Intense mass wasting

Most of the other Great Himalayan peaks


of Nepal such as Manaslu, Annapurna,
and Dhaulagiri have rocks of TibetanTethys Zone.
This zone is composed of sedimentary
rocks, such as shale, limestone, and
sandstone

Geological Setting of Nepal and civil


engineering challenges
In Terai Zone main problems for roads,
bridges, building and other engineering
structures is flooding, river bank scouring,
and liquefactions in various foundation.
In the Siwalik Zone the rocks are soft and
loose, the slope of these zone is unstable.
In the Lesser and Higher zone engineering
problems are more or less similar. Rocks
of these zones are deeply weathered,
fractured, jointed . Mass movements are
common.

Physiography of the Nepal himalaya

Tony Hagen successively divided Nepal


into eight well defined physiographic
provinces from south to north.
The Hagen classification is the most
appropriate classification and represents
all characteristic physiographic zones of
Nepal.

SN

Geomorphic Unit

Width
(km)

Altitudes Main Rock Types


(m)

Main processes for


landform development

Terai (Northern
edge of the
Gangetic Plain)

20-50

100-200

River deposition,
erosion and tectonic
upliftment

Churia Range
(Siwaliks)

10-50

200-1300 Sandstone,
Tectonic upliftment,
mudstone, shale and erosion, and slope
conglomerate.
failure

Dun Valleys

5-30

200-300

Alluvium: coarse
gravels in the north
near the foot of the
mountains,
gradually becoming
finer southward

Valleys within the


River deposition,
Churia Hills filled up erosion and tectonic
upliftment
by coarse to fine
alluvial sediments

SN

Geomorphic Unit

Width
(km)

Altitudes Main Rock Types


(m)

Main processes for


landform development

Mahabharat
Range

10-35

10003000

Tectonic upliftment,
Weathering, erosion,
and slope failure

Midlands

40-60

3002000

Fore Himalaya

20-70

20005000

Schist, phyllite,
gneiss, quartzite,
granite and limestone
belonging to the
Lesser Himalayan
Zone
Schist, phyllite,
gneiss, quartzite,
granite, limestone
geologically
belonging to the
Lesser Himalayan
Zone
Gneisses, schists,
phyllites and marbles
mostly belonging to
the northern edge of
the Lesser Himalayan
Zone

Tectonic upliftment,
Weathering, erosion,
and slope failure

Tectonic upliftment,
Weathering, erosion,
and slope failure

SN

Geomorphic Unit

Width
(km)

Altitudes Main Rock Types


(m)

Main processes for


landform development

Higher Himalaya

10-60

>5000

Tectonic upliftment,
Weathering, erosion
(rivers and glaciers),
and slope failure

Inner and Trans


Himalaya

5-50

25004500

Gneisses, schists,
migmatites and
marbles belonging to
the Higher Himalayan
Zone
Gneisses, schists
and marbles of the
Higher Himalayan
Zone and Tethyan
sediments
(limestones, shale,
sandstone etc.)
belonging to the
Tibetan-Tethys Zone

Tectonic
upliftment, wind and
glacial erosion, and
slope degradation by
rock disintegrations

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