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Re-interpretation of the age and environment

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Article in Journal of Asian Earth Sciences February 2012

DOI: 10.1016/j.jseaes.2011.08.018


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Re-interpretation of the age and environment of deposition of Paleogene

turbidites in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Western Sunda Arc
P.C. Bandopadhyay
Geological Survey of India, Northern Region, Aliganj, Lucknow 226 024, India

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history: Turbidites composed of sandstone-shale alternations on the KalipurShibpur coast, North Andaman
Received 1 September 2010 Island, classied under the PalaeoceneEocene Mithakhari Group in several recent papers are identied
Received in revised form 19 August 2011 as and compared with the type section of the Oligocene Andaman Flysch exposed at Corbyns Cove, South
Accepted 22 August 2011
Andaman Island. The Kalipur turbidites were interpreted as the inner fan and the latter as the distal mid
Available online xxxx
fan facies of a forearc submarine fan. The turbidites of these two locations are separated by 250 km.
Detailed studies concerning the identication and comparison, have however, revealed signicant differ-
ences, and the turbidite outcrops are not continuous between these two localities.
Andaman Flysch
Sandstone turbidites
Turbidites at KalipurShibpur and adjacent areas are part of a melange terrane, normally gritty and
Paleogene coarse grained, massive to locally graded bedded, calcareous, intercalated/interstratied with conglom-
Andaman and Nicobar Islands erates and reefoidal limestones and show a framework composition varying from volcanolithic to
lithic-poor arkosic sandstones, deposited in several isolated basins, fed by transverse supply of detritus
from an accreted and uplifted ophiolite and arc massif. The KalipurShibpur coast exposes marginally
deformed, sandstone-dominated turbidites (coherent units) containing abundant ichnotraces, late Palae-
ocene foraminifera, and rip-up shale clasts, indicating deposition in shallow water accretionary slope
basins. South of Kalipur, the Ramnagar coast exposes mud-rich turbidites showing accretion-related
deformation. These deformed turbidites are interpreted as offscraped trench deposits. Further south,
on the Rampur coast, turbidites intercalated with reefoidal limestones containing late Palaeocene foram-
inifera indicate deposition on the upper slope or on top of the accretionary slope basin. In contrast clas-
sical Bouma sequence-bearing sandstone-shale turbidites at Corbyns Cove, are part of a continuous
outcrop belt of siliciclastic turbidites, lack fossils, carbonate facies and conglomerates, and consist of
compositionally uniform greywackes, deposited in an open deep sea fan, fed by axially transported detri-
tus derived from the continental blocks of western Burma.
These key differences together with previous mapping and stratigraphic studies conrm the incorrect
identication of Andaman Flysch in North Andaman Island in recent papers. The turbidites of these two
locations were neither produced by the same sediment gravity ows nor deposited in the same forearc
fan during the Oligocene, instead, they were derived from different palaeographic domains, deposited
in different tectonic and sedimentary environments and also at different times. This provides new
insights into the Paleogene turbidite deposition in this part of Western Sunda Arc.
2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction medium grained lithic sandstones rich in ophiolitic detritus as

uxoturbidites. Karunakaran et al. (1964b) suggested that the ux-
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands record thick and extensive oturbidites (Namunagarh Grit of the Mithakhari Group, Table 1)
developments of Paleogene turbidites, described as true turbidites were mostly derived from sea mounts and guyots situated within
and uxoturbidites (Karunakaran et al., 1964a,b, 1968a, 1975). the ocean basin at its origin, whereas true turbidites (Andaman
These authors described the Bouma division-bearing ne to Flysch, Table 1) were derived from beyond the borders of the ocean
medium grained and unfossiliferous sequences of greywacke and were transported and deposited by the turbidity currents.
sandstone-shale alternations as true turbidites and the Field mapping and stratigraphic studies since the early sixties
fossiliferous, mostly massive bedded pebbly (grits) and coarse to (Karunakaran et al., 1964a; Pawde and Roy, 1964; Chatterjee,
1964, 1967; Pandey et al., 1992) established an upper Eocene
Oligocene age for the Andaman Flysch and a Late Palaeocene to
Tel.: +91 033 26427224. upper Eocene age for the Mithakhari Group, consistent with the
E-mail address: depositional ages constrained for the Paleogene formations by

1367-9120/$ - see front matter 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Please cite this article in press as: Bandopadhyay, P.C. Re-interpretation of the age and environment of deposition of Paleogene turbidites in the Andaman
and Nicobar Islands, Western Sunda Arc. Journal of Asian Earth Sciences (2011), doi:10.1016/j.jseaes.2011.08.018
2 P.C. Bandopadhyay / Journal of Asian Earth Sciences xxx (2011) xxxxxx

Table 1
PaleogeneNeogene succession of Andaman Island (modied after Karunakaran et al., 1968b).

Age Group Formation Structure/lithology Sedimentary /tectonic Fossil record

Miocene to Pliocene Archipelago Group Cross- and parallel laminated sandy Shallow marine shelf Foraminifers, Lepidocyclina,
limestone, calcareous sandstone/ Miogypsina, bryozoan and algae
siltstone, limestone and felsic (Srinivasan and Chatterjee, 1981)
Late Eocene to Andaman Flysch Parallel-bedded quartz-rich Deep sea fan Barren of fossil (Pawde and Roy,
Oligocene greywackes-shale turbidites, Bouma 1964; Chatterjee, 1964; Allen et al.,
(deposition sequences sole marks are abundant 2008)
between 30 and
20 Ma; Allen
et al., 2008)
Late Palaeocene Mithakhari Group/ (3) Namunagarh (3) Essentially massive and locally (3) Shallow water Nummulites atacicus Leymerie,
Eocene Baratang Group Grit including graded and channelized beds of basins perched onto Assilina papillata Nuttall, N.
(deposition after (Pandey et al., Wrightmyo gritty and coarse to medium grained the slopes of the subatacicus Douville and Discocyclina
60 Ma and no 1992) Nummulitic volcanolithic sandstone turbidites, accretionary wedge (middle Eocene); Nummulites acutus,
later than 40 Ma Limestone graded tuff, lithic-poor arkoses, and and fed by several N. atacicus, Assilina papillata,
(Allen et al., member algal and foraminiferal limestones. small fans Pelatispira, Biplanispira (upper
2008) Trace fossils and shale ake Eocene) (Chatterjee, 1964; Gururaja
conglomerates common and Rao, 1976)
(2) Hope Town- (2) Matrix to clast-supported (2) Same as Distichoplax biserialis in limestones
Cconglo-merate polymictic conglomerates and Namunagarh Grit (late Palaeocene) (Chatterjee, 1964;
with Tugapur sandstone with shale and Kundal and Wanjarwadkar, 2002;
Limestone foraminiferal limestones this study). Assilina daveisi de
member Cizancourt in conglomerate matrix
(lower Eocene) (Chatterjee, 1964)
(1) Lipa Black (1) Pyritiferous black shale with Euxinic environment/
Shale olistoliths in sheared argillite matrix Trench setting
Late Cretaceous to Ophiolite Chert, cherty limestone, mudstone Uplifted segments of Spumellarion radiolarian, Globigerina
Palaeocene including basalt, gabbro, diorite, serpentinized ocean oor and eugubina, G. trilloculinsides,
radiolarian chert haerzburgite, dunite, pyroxeinite oceanic crust forming Globorotalia compressa and
and pelagic accretionary ridge Globotruncana (Roy et al., 1988)
Pre-Ophiolite Older Quartz-sericite-muscovite schist, Represent elements of
metasedimentaries crystalline limestones, banded passive continental
quartzite margin

isotopic dating of terrigeneous and volcanogenic minerals (Allen at Corbyns Cove and in Great Nicobar Island provide an opportu-
et al., 2008). The Mithakhari Group (=Baratang Group; Pandey nity to document the different kinds of turbidite. This study estab-
et al., 1992) is most abundant in North and Middle Andaman lishes that the turbidites on the KalipurShibpur coast and also in
Islands (Fig. 1) whereas the Andaman Flysch is predominant in adjoining areas (Fig. 1) are part of the Mithakhari Group, based on
the South Andaman and Great Nicobar Islands. eld, petrographic and palaeontologic evidence, providing new in-
Recently Chakraborty and Pal (2001), observing the apparent sights into the Paleogene turbidite sedimentation in the Andaman
resemblance between the turbidites exposed on the Kalipur arc and is proved to be useful in recognition, correlation and inter-
Shibpur coast, North Andaman and at Corbyns Cove, South pretation of the different types of turbidites incorporated into the
Andaman Islands, identied the Kalipur turbidites as Oligocene- subduction complex (Dickinson, 1982; Bailleul et al., 2007).
aged Andaman Flysch. They suggested that the gritty and coarse
grained channelized sandstones of the Kalipur turbidites are prox- 2. Tectonic setting
imal inner fan, and medium to ne grained unchannelized grey-
wacke sandstones of the Corbyns Cove turbidites, distal mid fan The northsouth trending arcuate chain of Andaman and Nico-
facies of an Oligocene forearc fan. Several subsequent papers deal- bar Islands in the Northeast Indian Ocean provides an important
ing with the soft sediment deformation of turbidite successions physiographic/tectonic link between the Indo-Burma Ranges to
(Chakraborty and Mukhopadhyay, 2003), geodynamic evolution the north and the outer arcforearc Islands of Simule, Nias, Menta-
of the Andaman arc (Pal et al., 2003) and the statistical analysis wai, offshore of Sumatra to the south, forming the Western Sunda
of bed thickness patterns in turbidite successions (Chakraborty Arc (Fig. 1) (Curray and Allen, 2008). An inner volcanic arc and the
et al., 2002; Mukhopadhyay et al., 2003) identied the Kalipur Andaman Sea back arc basin with a complex history of evolution
Shibpur turbidites as Oligocene Andaman Flysch. This obviously (Curray, 2005) lies to the east of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands,
necessitates reinvestigation of the turbidites of the Andaman and they are anked by the Sunda Trench on the west (Fig. 1). The
Islands. Curray and Allen (2008) stated that the turbidites in the trench denes the normal to oblique subduction of the Indo-Aus-
North and South Andaman Islands are not necessarily the product tralian Plate below the Southeast Asian Plate, believed to have been
of the same fan, since the fan facies interpretations and palaeocur- initiated sometimes in the Cretaceous (Curray, 2005). UPb zircon
rent directions (Chakraborty and Pal, 2001) appear incompatible. dating of plagiogranite from the South Andaman ophiolite has
This study aims to provide an improved geological account of yielded a 95 2 Ma age, interpreted as dating the formation of oce-
the Andaman and Nicobar Islands based on the authors several anic crustal sequence in the Andaman ophiolite (Pedersen et al.,
years of eld study, and to characterize the Paleogene turbidites, 2010). Seismic sections across the Andaman Islands are interpreted
based on detailed examination of key sections. Turbidites outcrops as showing an accretionary prism (outer arc ridge) structure
on the KalipurShibpur, Ramnagar and on Rampur coasts (Fig. 1), formed by imbricate thrusting of east-dipping fault slices (cf.

Please cite this article in press as: Bandopadhyay, P.C. Re-interpretation of the age and environment of deposition of Paleogene turbidites in the Andaman
and Nicobar Islands, Western Sunda Arc. Journal of Asian Earth Sciences (2011), doi:10.1016/j.jseaes.2011.08.018
P.C. Bandopadhyay / Journal of Asian Earth Sciences xxx (2011) xxxxxx 3

Fig. 1. Outline geological map of the Andaman Island (compiled from published map of Karunakaran et al., 1964a; Chatterjee, 1967; Pandey et al., 1992). Melange units occur
along the eastern side of the Island and covering the almost entire width of the Middle and North Andaman Islands. Andaman Flysch is exposed along the western side of the
Andaman Islands, shows a very narrow outcrop in the Middle and North Andaman Islands and also occurs along the eastern side of the South Andaman Island. Inset shows
major tectonic features of the Sunda Arc.

Fig. 2) and folds with westerly vergence; linked to westward shift- the forearc (Samuel et al., 1995, 1997; Samuel and Harbury,
ing of the subduction zone (Roy, 1983, 1992). The sedimentary suc- 1996) rather than an accretionary prism previously proposed by
cessions deposited in several narrow and elongated trench-parallel Moore and Karig (1980). The different tectonic models for the Nias
basins, by and large exhibit northsouth striking and easterly dip- Island are discussed thoroughly in Sumatra Memoir (Barber and
ping with younger Paleogene and Neogene formations occurring in Crow, 2005).
the west, and are structurally overlain by the Early Paleogene for-
mations and a Late Cretaceous ophiolite on the Jarwa thrust to the
east (Fig. 1). The inferred accretionary tectonic setting is, however, 3. Geology, stratigraphy and age
not similar to that suggested for the island of Nias, forming a part
of the Western Sunda Arc. The Nias Island has been extensively The geology of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands comprises de-
studied during the recent past and interpreted as outer part of formed and thrust units of pre-ophiolitic rocks, Late Cretaceous

Please cite this article in press as: Bandopadhyay, P.C. Re-interpretation of the age and environment of deposition of Paleogene turbidites in the Andaman
and Nicobar Islands, Western Sunda Arc. Journal of Asian Earth Sciences (2011), doi:10.1016/j.jseaes.2011.08.018
4 P.C. Bandopadhyay / Journal of Asian Earth Sciences xxx (2011) xxxxxx

(Fig. 1) and this occurrence is interpreted as due to folding

(Karunakaran et al., 1964a; Ray, 1982). The Paleogene sedimentary
formations do not show depositional contacts and where present
the contact appears faulted or thrusted consistent with the previ-
ous studies (Ray, 1982; Acharyya et al., 1989). Lithologies and
sedimentary facies in coeval sections change abruptly.
Karunakaran et al. (1968b), based on biostratigraphic work of
Chatterjee (1964), constructed the current stratigraphy (Table 1).
Lithology, structures, fossil record, biostratigraphic/isotopic ages
and depositional environments for the Paleogene formations are
given in Table 1. The Mithakhari Group is predominantly made
up of sediment gravity ow deposits including turbidites, rich in
Fig. 2. Moderately dipping WE section of regionally extensive Andaman Flysch ophiolite clasts and was deposited in small and shallow water,
turbidite exposed 2 km south of Campbell Bay, Great Nicobar Island. Very thick
fault-controlled trench-slope basins within an accretionary setting
beds of greywacke sandstone alternate with thick shale. Man is 1.6 m tall. Note that
the upper sandstone bed is imbricated by reverse faults typical of thrust tectonics in (Chakraborty et al., 1999). The Hope Town Conglomerate is a con-
an accretionary complex. glomerate dominated formation whereas the Namunagarh Grit is
dominated by sandstones (Table 1). Abundant vitric and lithic
grains and crystals of neovolcanic origin, implying input from ac-
ophiolite, Paleogene turbidites and relatively less deformed Neo- tive arc volcanism, and trace fossils and rip-up shale clasts, imply-
gene shallow marine mixed siliciclastic-carbonate sediments with ing deposition in shallow water, have been recently identied from
reworked tuffs (Table 1). The Paleogene turbidites consist of silici- the Namunagarh Grit (Bandopadhyay, 2005; Bandopadhyay et al.,
clastic and volcaniclastic sandstones and are contained within the 2009).
two contrasting geologic domains referred to here as chaotic and Karunakaran et al. (1968a) recorded variable palaeocurrent
coherent terranes. A major thrust known as the Jarwa Thrust directions in rocks of Mithakhari Group and suggested the isolated
(Pandey et al., 1992) (Fig. 1) denes the contact between the two nature of the depositional basins. Paleocurrent data (Chakraborty
terranes. The Volcaniclastic turbidites occur in the chaotic terrane et al., 1999) from cross-bedded and ute cast bearing sandstones
that extends mainly along the eastern side of the South and Middle of the Mithakhari Group, Middle Andaman Island also indicate var-
Andaman Islands, and covers the entire width of the North Andaman iable paleocurrent directions (NWSE, SSW and westward).
Island (Fig. 1), containing olistoliths, olistostromes, and mud volca- Carbonate rocks represent an important facies association of the
noes (Acharyya et al., 1989; Bandyopadhyaya et al., 1973). Roy and Mithakhari Group in Andaman Islands, yet are poorly described in
Das Sharma (1993) mentioned the presence of strike-slip faults with the literature. Lenticular and hummocky algal-foraminiferal lime-
a steep or vertical dip (wrench faults) off the east coast of South And- stones forming up to 10 m thick and 100 m wide deposits inter-
aman Island. The olistoliths comprise dismembered thrust sheets of nger with and underlie the conglomerates of the Mithakhari
ophiolite, boulders and blocks of pervasively fractured pelagic red Group in the Middle Andaman Island around Tugapur (Tugapur
chert of Late CretaceousEarly Palaeocene age, chertied and ser- Limestone Member, Table 1) and are also present as isolated out-
pentinized crystalline limestones, folded and faulted banded crops of various descriptions, including as large blocks. At places
quartzite, sandstones and tectonic breccias. Olistostromes comprise pebbles of limestone occur in conglomerates. Ray (1982) stated
gravity driven slumps, slides and debris ow deposits (matrix-sup- that the fossiliferous limestones alternating and interngering
ported disorganized conglomerates with planar clast fabric). Effu- with conglomerate beds are bioherms and biostromes. In Smith Is-
sive to explosive extrusion of light grey liquid mud with yellowish land (Fig. 1) bio-micrite limestones constitute facies-A1 of a basin
brine, sometimes accompanied by rock fragments, forming mud vol- plain turbidite sequence (Chakraborty and Pal, 2001). Small fring-
canoes occur within the turbidite sequences in the Baratang and in ing reefs and olistoliths of algal-foraminiferal limestones are re-
northern part of the North Andaman Islands (Fig. 1). These rocks cently recognized from the Rampur coast (Fig. 1).
and the mud volcanoes are typical of melange terrenes in accretion- The Oligocene Andaman Flysch records regionally extensive
ary complexes of Eastern Indonesia (Barber et al., 1986), the Francis- deposition of siliciclastic turbidites, the type section in the South
can subduction zone (Worrall, 1981; Aalto, 1989), the Western Andaman Island is described in Section 4.4. Great Nicobar Island
Cordillera of North America (Cowan, 1985), Nias Island, Sumatra exposes Andaman Flysch and minor occurrences of Mithakhari
(Samuel et al., 1997), the Indo-Burma Ranges (Brunnschweiler, rocks and ophiolite along the east coast. Recent eld studies have
1974) and the Chios, Greece and Karaburam, Turkey (Robertson revealed that the Andaman Flysch turbidites display highly regular
and Ustaomer, 2009). While a diapiric origin has been suggested alternations of sandstone and shale (Fig. 2) and the sandstones are
for melanges in Indonesia and Nias Island, an olistostromal (gravity dominantly ne grained greywackes, revealing similarity to that of
ows) and/or a tectonic origin has been proposed for the other the Corbyns Cove turbidites. However, the sandstone beds in the
occurrences. These rocks and the active mud volcanoes although Great Nicobar Island are relatively thinner though the maximum
common in the Andaman Islands have never been studied in detail thickness of a bed is in the order of 35 m compared to a maximum
to understand the Paleogene accretionary tectonics and turbidite of 3 m thickness recorded for the sandstone beds on the south-
sedimentation, these problems will be addressed in detail west coast of the South Andaman Island. The sandstone beds in
separately. the Great Nicobar Island are mainly massive and parallel-sided,
The coherent terrane extends as thin strips along the western unchannelized, laterally continuous, show uniform bed thickness
margin of the Middle Andaman Island, becoming thicker and alter- with thin intervals of current-ripple lamination (Bouma Tc divi-
nating with rocks of the chaotic terrane in the South Andaman sion) towards the top, but lack basal grain size grading and the sole
Island and covering virtually the whole of Great Nicobar Island marks that are abundant in Corbyns Cove turbidites. The south-
(Karunakaran et al., 1975). It exhibits a near continuous, thick ward orientation of the current ripples reveals that the sediments
and regionally extensive succession of faulted, folded and sheared were derived from the north similar to records from the Andaman
siliciclastic turbidites and that the terrane is characterized by the Flysch, South Andaman Island. Karunakaran et al. (1975) suggested
presence of greywacke sandstones. In the southern part of South 5000 m thickness for the Nicobar turbidites with an increased
Andaman Island, greywacke turbidites occur on the eastern side abundance of clay beds.

Please cite this article in press as: Bandopadhyay, P.C. Re-interpretation of the age and environment of deposition of Paleogene turbidites in the Andaman
and Nicobar Islands, Western Sunda Arc. Journal of Asian Earth Sciences (2011), doi:10.1016/j.jseaes.2011.08.018
P.C. Bandopadhyay / Journal of Asian Earth Sciences xxx (2011) xxxxxx 5

4. Turbidite deposits

The volcaniclastic turbidites are exposed all along the east coast
of the North and Middle Andaman Islands and occur as; (1) north
south striking and easterly dipping coherent units, (2) chaotically
deformed sandstonemudstone and, (3) interbedded/intercalated
sandstonefossiliferous limestones. Siliciclastic turbidites are best
exposed in and around Corbyns Cove, South Andaman Islands
(Fig. 1). All the gravity ow deposits described in this study are not
uniquely turbidites but belong to the turbidite system (Mattern,

4.1. Coherent units, KalipurShibpur, North Andaman Island

Coherent units along the KalipurShibpur coast (Fig. 1) are mar-

ginally deformed sandstone-dominated, thick bedded turbidites
(Fig. 3). Chakraborty and Pal (2001) studied the facies and the
architectural elements and inferred an inner fan depositional set-
ting for these turbidites. The sandstone beds are mainly massive,
locally normally graded, up to 3 m thick, parallel-sided, at places
show channelized bases and consist of granule and pebble bearing
Fig. 4. Thalassinoides ichnotraces preserved in full relief on sandstone bed surface,
gritty and coarse- to medium-grained volcaniclastic sandstones
Kalipur coast, North Andaman Island. Coin is 2 cm in diameter.
interbedded with thin beds of polymict conglomerates, parallel-
laminated beds/laminae of ne-grained sandstones and siltstone
and cross-bedded sandstones. Shallow water ichnotraces and shale
ake conglomerates, previously undocumented, are characteristics
of the Kalipur turbidites. The ichnotraces, identied as Thalassino-
ides, are unbranched and unornamented, isolated sediment feeders
(burrows) disposed parallel to the bedding and preserved in full re-
lief on bedding surfaces (Fig. 4). Simple vertical burrows (Skoli-
thos) and horizontal burrows with meniscusses, possibly
phonolites are also recognized. The sandstone beds contain several
thin intervals of light coloured rip up shale clasts conglomerates of
shallow water origin (Fig. 5), and elongated, spherical and irregu-
larly shaped concretions of calcareous sandstones stand out in re-
lief on the bedding plane surfaces. The interbedded polymict
conglomerates are mainly matrix-supported, poorly sorted, un-
graded and contain rounded to angular pebbles of quartzite, basalt,
serpentinite, andesite, chert, shale and fossiliferous limestone,
bearing a close similarity to the Hope Town Conglomerate, South Fig. 5. Coarse grained volcaniclastic sandstone containing several thin intervals of
Andaman Island (Bandopadhyay and Ghosh, 1998). Chakraborty shale pebble conglomerates, Kalipur, North Andaman. Hammer for scale.
and Pal (2001) recorded north-easterly and easterly paleocurrent
directions for the Kalipur turbidites, implying the supply of sedi-
ments transverse to the northsouth elongated basin axis. Trans- 4.2. Chaotic units, Ramnagar coast, North Andaman Island
verse supply of sediments is also recorded in trench-slope basins
in the Nankai subduction zone, Southwest Japan and in the Mio- A little south of Kalipur, the Ramnagar coast (Fig. 1) exposes
cene Akitio trench-slope basin, New Zealand (Underwood et al., mud-dominated deformed sandstone-shale turbidites showing
2003; Bailleul et al., 2007). accretion-related deformation characteristic of the trench-ll sed-
iments deposited at the toe of an accretionary prism (Lash, 1985;
Maltman, 1998; Needham, 1987). Deformation largely resulted
from layer-parallel extension and shearing is indicated by the
ubiquitous presence of pinch-and-swell structures, boudinage,
and necked sandstone blocks, bounded by shear factures (Fig. 6A
and B). The intensely deformed zones show large isolated frag-
ments of sandstone typically lenticular in shape (Fig. 6B). Necked
sandstone blocks show asymmetric tails and shear fractures cut-
ting the sandstone blocks (Fig. 6A). The necked and separated
sandstone pieces (clasts and blocks) in shale matrix can at places
be joined together to reconstruct the original interbedded se-
quence of sandstone and shale. The deformed chaotic unit neither
intrude nor include rocks of younger age. In Nias Island (Fig. 1)
similar chaotic rocks (melanges), however, map out as irregular
Fig. 3. Tectonically steepened NESW section of vertical beds of coarse grained
thick and parallel-sided beds of coherent unit of the volcaniclastic sandstone
intrusions and include rocks of all ages including Pleistocene coral
turbidites exposed at the Kalipur coast, North Andaman Island. Many beds contain fragments (Barber pers. Comm., 2011). At places the sandstone
calcareous concretions stand out in relief. Boys for scale. clasts in shale matrix have been twisted and/or rotated and the

Please cite this article in press as: Bandopadhyay, P.C. Re-interpretation of the age and environment of deposition of Paleogene turbidites in the Andaman
and Nicobar Islands, Western Sunda Arc. Journal of Asian Earth Sciences (2011), doi:10.1016/j.jseaes.2011.08.018
6 P.C. Bandopadhyay / Journal of Asian Earth Sciences xxx (2011) xxxxxx

mud volcanoes in Indonesia and attributed its origin to shale dia-

pirism. At Ramnagar coast the scaly foliated fabric in shale matrix
can be recognized all throughout the outcrop whereas such fabric
in diapiric shale is commonly observed closer to the margin of the
melange (Orange, 1990). At Ramnagar coast, the predominantly
ssile, curvilinear and variably anastomosing surfaces, commonly
with a shiny appearance, in shale matrix, although could be inter-
preted as due to mud diapirism following Barber et al. (1986), are
also reported from sediments derived from the toe of active accre-
tionary prisms (Maltman, 1998). Further more, phacoidal lenses
(Ogawa, 1998) of sandstone in the Ramnagar outcrop are common
and their long axes have a preferred orientation that often ob-
served in tectonic melange (Orange, 1990).

4.3. Turbidite sandstonelimestone, Rampur coast, Middle Andaman


South of Ramnagar the same coastal tract near Rampur and Kar-
matang (Fig. 1), exposes turbidite sandstone-shale alternations int-
erbedded with the conglomerates. On the Rampur coast the
interbedded sandstone-shale conformably encloses laterally re-
stricted small mound-like limestones up to 1.5 m high and 3.0 m
wide, internally massive and rich in foraminifera and algae. They
have at bases and convex-up tops draped by medium grained
greyish green and tan coloured medium-thick to thin-bedded
volcaniclastic turbiditic sandstones (Fig. 8A). Small spheroids,
maximum 15 cm in diameter, of the fossiliferous limestone are
also encased in the bedded sandstone. They represent small fring-
ing reefs formed in a shallow water volcaniclastic environment and
are common in an island arc setting. The micritic mosaic of the
Fig. 6. Accretion-related deformation structures in interbedded sandstone-shale;
limestones is sprinkled with quartz grains and contains well pre-
volcaniclastic turbidites on the Ramnagar coast; sandstone beds are stretched and
show elongate asymmetric neck with pervasive development of shear fractures (A). served Late PalaeoceneEocene Nummulites and Assilina (Fig. 8B).
Box is 10 cm long; intensive deformation resulted in the formation of phacoidal lens
of sandstone (B). Pen is 10 cm long.
4.4. Siliciclastic turbidites, Corbyns Cove, South Andaman Island

clasts and matrix together appeared churned, with the develop- The siliciclastic turbidites in the South Andaman and Great Nico-
ment of a blocks in matrix fabric, representing the typical struc- bar Islands represent part of a sand-dominated submarine fan sys-
tural style of the Type-1 melange in the Western Cordillera tem, characteristic of an active margin setting (Mattern, 2005).
(Cowan, 1985) (Fig. 7). The interbedded shale shows intensely per- Corbyns Cove in the South Andaman Island provides the most com-
vasive scaly foliated fabric, swerves around rigid sandstone clasts plete section of turbidites studied in detail (Karunakaran et al.,
and contains wisps and swirls of siliciceous shale (Fig. 7). Barber 1968a; Bandopadhyay and Ghosh, 1998; Chakraborty and Pal,
et al. (1986) described similar scaly foliated shale matrix from 2001). The turbidite sequences show rhythmic alternations of sand-
stone and shale (Fig. 9). The sandstone beds show remarkable lateral
continuity in outcrop, and uniformity in bed thickness, texture and
composition, are up to 1.5 m thick, unchannelized, parallel-sided
and consist of light to dark grey and medium to ne grained grey-
wacke sandstones. The bases of the sandstone beds show a variety
of sole marks and the ute cast orientation indicating paleocurrents
showing sediment transport was from the north. The sandstone
beds showing complete Bouma cycles start with basal normal grain
size grading (Ta division), overlain by parallel laminations (Tb divi-
sion) which is in turn overlain by ripple-laminated intervals (Tc)
draped by thinly laminated shale, corresponding to Bouma Td/e
divisions. Sandstone-conglomerate associations representing facies
A of Mutti and Ricci Lucchi (1975) are absent. Despite an assiduous
search, trace fossils have not been identied in the Andaman Flysch
turbidite sequences, including Corbyns Cove section and have not
been reported by previous workers.

5. Sandstone petrography

5.1. KalipurShibpur, North Andaman

Fig. 7. Extensive deformation and churning of the clasts and sediments formed the
Type-I melange containing fractured sandstones in mudstone showing scaly
foliated surface with wisps and swirls, chaotic unit at the Ramnagar coast, North The framework compositions of the volcaniclastic turbidites
Andaman Island. Pen for scale. range from predominantly feldspathic volcanolithic to lithic-poor

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P.C. Bandopadhyay / Journal of Asian Earth Sciences xxx (2011) xxxxxx 7

zoned plagioclase make up the framework mode (Fig. 10). The non-
volcanic lithic grains, though rare, include chert, limestone and
polycrystalline quartz. The lithic-poor arkosic sandstones have
intermediate quartz content, mostly of non-undulose monocrystal-
line variety, 1015% feldspars and a few percent rock fragments
consisting of plutonic polycrystalline quartz (Basu et al., 1975)
and chert (Fig. 11). Locally reworked whole and broken tests of
foraminifera are notable framework grains in arkosic, and are also
present in volcanolithic sandstones. The vitric grains comprise
bubble-wall, bi- and tri-cuspate glass shards and ovoid vesicles
(Fig. 10). Plagioclase microlites in amorphous dark brown basaltic
groundmass characterize the microlitic grains whereas the ori-
ented tabular laths of plagioclase make up the lathwork lithic
grains (Critelli and Ingersoll, 1995). Bandopadhyay (2005) also
documented the identical vitric and lithic grains and plagioclase
from the Namunagarh Grit. Compared to Corbyns Cove turbidites
heavy minerals are less abundant and the zircon grains are mostly
prismatic and pale pinkish colour.
The framework grains either oat, or show point or long
tangential contacts, showing negligible effects of diagenesis. The
framework interstices are lled with dirty brown and green

Fig. 8. Volcaniclastic turbidite sandstonelimestone association on the Rampur

coast, Middle Andaman Island; hummocky deposit of algal-foraminiferal limestone
draped by bedded volcaniclastic sandstones (A) (contact is marked with black lime
and also arrowed), Pen is 15 cm long; Well preserved Assilina and Nummulites in
micritic sandy limestone (B). Bar = 200 lm.

Fig. 10. PPL microphotograph of feldspathic volcanolithic sandstone, Kalipur coast,

North Andaman Island. Note abundance of microlitic, and lathwork volcanic grains,
broken and whole crystals, and glass shards, all set in partly altered glassy matrix.
Bar = 100 lm.

Fig. 9. Tectonically steepened vertical beds of greywacke turbidites. Note the

laterally continuous, uniformly thick and undeformed sandstone beds alternate
with much thinner shale beds. Oligocene Andaman Flysch, Corbyns Cove, South
Andaman Island. Way up is to the left. Boys for scale. Also note steep spaced,
fracture cleavage striking across the sandstone beds.

quartzofeldspathic arkosic sandstones that characterize the sand-

stone compositions of subduction complexes (Dickinson, 1982;
Underwood and Bachman, 1986; Critelli and Ingersoll, 1995). The
vitric, microlitic and lathwork grains (Critelli and Ingersoll, 1995)
of basalt and andesite of neovolcanic origin, a few rounded felsitic Fig. 11. XPL microphotograph of poorly sorted arkosic sandstone of the volcani-
grains of paleovolcanic origin and the whole and broken euhedra of clastic turbidites, Kalipur, North Andaman Island. Bar = 100 lm.

Please cite this article in press as: Bandopadhyay, P.C. Re-interpretation of the age and environment of deposition of Paleogene turbidites in the Andaman
and Nicobar Islands, Western Sunda Arc. Journal of Asian Earth Sciences (2011), doi:10.1016/j.jseaes.2011.08.018
8 P.C. Bandopadhyay / Journal of Asian Earth Sciences xxx (2011) xxxxxx

amorphous material and yellowish green devitried glass, forming

radiating brous aggregates of chlorite. The unstable lithic and pla-
gioclase grains appear fresh, but where altered looked turbid. Glass
shards are preserved intact. The sandstones are calcareous and a cal-
cite cement is pervasive in arkosic sandstones containing late Palae-
ocene foraminifera identied as Assilina (Fig. 12). Despite signs of
degradation of the whole test of the fossil, the internal chambers
are, by and large, preserved intact, except for their terminal ends.
Moreover, the composition of internal sediment (calcite) within
the chambers matches that of that of the external matrix and Num-
mulites of older ages have not been found. These attributes suggest
that the fossils are indigenous to this sediment, but locally reworked,
and are comparable with Assilina and Nummulites in the Rampur
limestones illustrating unreworked preservation.

5.2. Corbyns Cove, South Andaman Island

Fig. 13. PPL microphotograph of moderately sorted quartzofeldspathic greywacke
The siliciclastic turbidites are compositionally uniform quartzo- sandstones of the Andaman Flysch, Corbyns Cove section. Bar = 100 lm.
feldspathic sandstones, predominantly quartzose greywackes
(Fig. 13), with a few feldspathic quartzwackes. Quartz grains are pre-
dominantly monocrystalline and undulose. Polycrystalline grains 6. Re-interpretation of the Andaman Flysch, North Andaman
consist either of a few large crystals showing interlocking crystal Island
crystal contacts or of several small and attened crystals showing
sutured contacts (Bandopadhyay and Ghosh, 1998). They are similar The melange terrane in the North and Middle Andaman Islands
to polycrystalline quartz derived from plutonic igneous and meta- indicates an accretionary setting for the turbidite deposits con-
morphic rocks (Basu et al., 1975). The feldspars are normally turbid, tained therein. The attributes of the coherent Kalipur turbidites,
rarely fresh and albitic in composition. Micas are mostly brown- previously described, suggest deposition in a proximal fan fed by
stained and green-stained biotite and white to tan coloured musco- transverse channels within shallow basins perched on the accre-
vite. Lithic grains comprise low-rank metamorphic rocks such as tionary slope. The mud-rich sandstone-shale turbidites, showing
quartz-muscovite schist and quartzite, rounded grains of chert and accretion-related deformation described in Section 4.2, represent
polycrystalline quartz. Allen et al. (2008) reported a few percent of offscraped trench-ll deposits formed at the toe of the accretionary
volcanic lithic grains of basaltic composition. The moderately sorted slope, and possibly lie below the coherent unit, as it is observed
quartz and feldspar commonly show moderate to tight packing, and elsewhere that deformed offscraped material forms the substrate
the framework interstices are lled with illitic clay minerals. Zir- for the overlying slope basin sediments in accretionary trench
cons, common as heavy minerals are mostly rounded and sub- slope basins (Moore, 1979; Dickinson, 1982; Underwood et al.,
rounded and light yellowish to brown in colour. 2003). The turbidites interbedded with reefoidal limestones were
The sandstone shows deep burial diagenetic alteration. Quartz possibly deposited on the upper slope or on top of the accretionary
shows diffuse and corroded grain margins fading into the matrix, slope in extremely shallow and agitated water. In contrast attri-
micas, squashed and deformed around harder quartz grains, form butes of the Andaman Flysch suggest that the siliciclastic turbidites
a pseudomatrix, and the sericite and chlorite produced by alter- are not part of a melange terrane and were deposited in a large fan
ation of feldspar and biotite, respectively, along and across the fed by axially transported sediments through deep sea canyon.
cleavages and fractures of the latter, represent protomatrix Since the beginning of lithological mapping and biostratigraphic
(Dickinson, 1970). studies, the dominant sedimentary rocks (conglomerates, grits and
sandstones with a lesser amount of fossiliferous limestones) of the
North and Middle Andaman Islands, including the KalipurShibpur
section, have been assigned a PalaeoceneEocene age and classi-
ed under the Mithakhari/Baratang Group. Field mapping in parts
of the Middle and North Andaman Islands in the late nineties by
Pal et al. (19972000 unpublished reports of GSI) led Chakraborty
and Pal (2001) to identify the turbidites of the KalipurShibpur
coast and Smith Island, North Andaman Island as Oligocene
Andaman Flysch, implied rejection of previous stratigraphic
studies. This rejection is unrealistic, since these authors neither
discussed the shortcomings of the previous stratigraphic classica-
tion, nor provided the evidence in favour of their arguments,
except to claim the gross similarity with respect to the interbedded
nature of the turbidites at the two locations. This gross similarity,
together with the coarser grain size of the sandstones, interstrati-
cation with conglomerates and the presence of channelized sand-
stones, prompted Chakraborty and Pal (2001) to identify the
KalipurShibpur section as Oligocene Andaman Flysch and inter-
pret the section as proximal inner fan facies, and the medium to
Fig. 12. XPL microphotograph of Assilina in calcite-cemented arkosic sandstone of
the volcaniclastic turbidite. Except slight deformation at the margin the test is
ne grained greywacke turbidites of the Corbyns Cove section
preserved intact including its internal cell-chambers lled with calcite cement (known to be Oligocene Andaman Flysch) as distal mid fan facies,
which also occupies the intergranular pores. Bar = 20 lm. representing the deposition of proximaldistal facies in a forearc

Please cite this article in press as: Bandopadhyay, P.C. Re-interpretation of the age and environment of deposition of Paleogene turbidites in the Andaman
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P.C. Bandopadhyay / Journal of Asian Earth Sciences xxx (2011) xxxxxx 9

fan. The Kalipur turbidites are indeed inner fan facies, but the in- Corbyns Cove sandstones, in contrast, show a little variation in
ferred Oligocene age is incorrect, and the turbidites were deposited framework composition characterized by greywacke sandstones.
in a trench-slope setting instead of in a forearc basin as suggested The Andaman Flysch turbidites contain mostly rounded zircons,
by Chakraborty and Pal (2001). The distal mid fan interpretation derived predominantly from older Proterozoic crust, whereas zircon
for the Corbyns Cove section (Chakraborty and Pal, 2001) also grains in the Mithakhari turbidites and from the KalipurShibpur
raises a problem. The Andaman Flysch represents a sand-rich tur- sandstones are mostly elongated prismatic grains, resembling vol-
bidite fan and the depositional models and classications of such canic zircon, and bear the signature of a much younger Palaeozoic
fans are reviewed in detail by Mattern (2005), suggesting that and Mesozoic crustal source (Allen et al., 2008 and this study).
the middle fan sequences show mainly A, B, C, D facies of Mutti Ichnotraces and carbonate rocks represent important bio- and
and Ricci Lucchi (1975) and contain both channelized and parallel litho-facies association of the Mithakhari sediments. Ichnotraces
beds whereas outer fan sequences show mainly B, C, D facies and absent in the deep sea Andaman Flysch turbidites are however
parallel beds that are highly organized, with good lateral bed abundant in the shallow water Namunagarh Grit turbidites. It
continuity and a relatively constant bed thickness. The Andaman has however been recorded in the Neogene back arc basin, central
Flysch turbidites both in South Andaman and Great Nicobar islands Japan (Tokuhashi, 1996) that trace fossils bearing shallow marine
have several attributes common with the outer fan sequences, turbiditic sandstones in the eastern part grade into unfossiliferous
favouring deposition in an outer fan setting. However, absence of deep marine environment in the west. The Central Japan turbidites
basal Bouma divisions and sole marks in the Nicobar turbidites however show the same palaeocurrent directions and physical
located basinward of the Corbyns cove turbidites, with greater continuity from the east to west. The Andaman turbidites are not
abundance of shale beds, possibly suggest deposition in a distal physically continuous, neither do they show same palaeocurrent
outer fan. directions. Fringing reefs, intercalation/interstratication of lime-
The KalipurShibpur turbidites were deposited when there was stone and limestone olistoliths forming a part of the Mithakhari
an active subduction, accretion and arc magmatism. Contrary to Group are absent in the Andaman Flysch.
this, the Andaman Flysch indicates a time when there was a signif- These differences, summarized in Table 2 reect that the Paleo-
icant uplift and erosion of the continental blocks, implying a gene turbidites of different paleogeographic settings, provenances,
change in the style of tectonism triggering enhanced supply of ter- ages and depositional environments were incorporated into the
rigeneous sediments. Karunakaran et al. (1968a), based on paleo- Andaman subduction complex. The differences therefore, collec-
current data, inferred that the sediment supply was from the tively suggest that the fan facies correlation in recent papers is
north and the source was the Irrawwady Delta in Burma. Allen an oversimplication and the Kalipur turbidites can be reinter-
et al. (2008) suggest that >95% of the Flysch sediments were de- preted as Namunagarh Grit of the Mithakhari Group, corroborating
rived from Western Burma with a little <5% input from a magmatic the previous mapping and stratigraphic studies.
arc including the nascent Himalaya, with no contribution from
Greater India. For similar turbidites of Miocene age in Nias Island
(Fig. 1), a mature continental province, probably Sumatran has 7. Broader implications
been suggested (Moore, 1979; Samuel et al., 1995). Curray and
Allen (2008) however, suggested a Himalayan source for the The Paleogene sedimentation history of the Andaman and Nic-
Mio-Pliocene Archipelago Group in Andaman Island. obar Islands reveals that the Oligocene-aged siliciclastic turbidites
The different palaeocurrent directions recorded for the Kalipur were deposited as part of submarine fan on an open ocean oor,
Shibpur and Corbyns Cove turbidites do not support the idea that while volcaniclastic turbidites of the Late PalaeoceneEocene age
the two turbidite sequences, interpreted as proximal and distal were deposited in slope basins on an accretionary complex, before
facies, were produced by the same gravity ows. Analogous being accreted into the forearc ridge. Deposition of siliciclastic
shallow and deep marine turbidites juxtapositionally deposited turbidites (Andaman Flysch) in the fore arc basin (Chakraborty
in the upper part of the Kawaguchi Formation, central Japan show and Pal, 2001; Pal et al., 2003) is inconsistent in view of the fact
uniform paleocurrent directions (Tokuhashi, 1996). that the turbidite sandstones seldom contain arc-derived sand
The limestones and calcareous sandstones represent important grains and that the forearc turbidites are characterized by signi-
lithofacies of the volcaniclastic turbidites, providing reliable bio- cant presence of sands derived from a volcano-plutonic arc massif
stratigraphic ages for the latter. In contrast, calcareous sandstones (Moore, 1979; Dickinson and Seely, 1979; Dickinson, 1982). The
and limestones are conspicuously absent in the Andaman Flysch. Andaman Flysch turbidites indicates deposition beyond the inu-
The Nummulites and the Assilina in calcareous arkose and in reefoi- ence of forearc sedimentation. Analogous deep marine turbidites
dal limestone suggest a late Palaeocenelower Eocene age for the (Nias Beds) in Nias Island have, however, been interpreted as rep-
Rampur and Kalipur turbidites, consistent with the previous bio- resenting forearc basin deposits (Samuel et al., 1995), revealing dif-
stratigraphic study (Chatterjee, 1964). The barren Andaman Flysch ferent depositional settings for the turbidites of Andaman and Nias
turbidites, sandwiched between the late PalaeoceneEocene Islands though both the areas belong to the same island arc chain.
Mithakhari Group and the Mio-Pliocene Archipelago Group, indi- The volcaniclastic turbidites were deposited in the accretionary
cate deposition during the Oligocene (Pawde and Roy, 1964). trench slope basins, trench oor and on top of the accretionary
Fresh samples of Corbyns Cove Andaman Flysch sandstones are prism. Curray and Allen (2008) suggested deposition of the volca-
light grey and grey, micaceous and strongly indurated. The compa- niclastic turbidite sandstones in basins formed over the surface
rable sandstones of the Kalipur turbidites are dirty green, greenish lows on the terraced forearc. At a convergence margin subduc-
grey and moderately indurated. The granule and pebble sizes clasts tionaccretion processes are not random but do involve consider-
in the Kalipur sandstones and conglomerates were derived from plu- able churning and mixing with strong deformation. Hence many
tonic, volcanic, ophiolite, pelagic and rarely metamorphic rocks. accretionary complex rocks are described as melange, and de-
Such constituents are hardly present in the Corbyns Cove turbidite spite their apparently chaotic nature, melanges often exhibit a high
sandstones, which are also devoid of sand grains derived from ophi- degree of internal organization and display a suite of structures
olite and an arc massif that are however, common in the Kalipur which are indicative of the processes that formed the melange.
Shibpur sandstones, exhibiting compositional variations from Curray and Allen (2008) opined that the Paleogene sediments of
volcanolithic to lithic-poor quartzofeldspathic sandstone, expected the Andaman Islands were not sufciently deformed to be termed
in sandstones derived from arc massifs (Dickinson, 1982). The melange and suggested that the ophiolite and older sediments

Please cite this article in press as: Bandopadhyay, P.C. Re-interpretation of the age and environment of deposition of Paleogene turbidites in the Andaman
and Nicobar Islands, Western Sunda Arc. Journal of Asian Earth Sciences (2011), doi:10.1016/j.jseaes.2011.08.018
10 P.C. Bandopadhyay / Journal of Asian Earth Sciences xxx (2011) xxxxxx

Table 2
Key differences between the turbidite sandstones, KalipurShibpur and Corbyns Cove sections.

Basic attributes KalipurShibpur, North Andaman Island Corbyns Cove, South Andaman Island
of the turbidites
Occurrence As coherent and chaotic units of the melange terrane stretches along the As continuous outcrop of regionally extensive and single-lithology
eastern part of the islands turbidite succession occupying the western part of the islands
Sandstone Volcaniclastic turbidites (feldspathic volcanolithic to lithic-poor Siliciclastic turbidites (quartzose greywackes with minor amount of
composition quartzofeldspathic (arkosic)) feldspathic wackes)
Sedimentary Sandstone beds are essentially massive, locally normally graded, parallel- Parallel-sided sandstone beds are nonchannelized, show complete
Structures sided. A few beds have shallow channelized bases. Sole marks are absent Bouma sequence. Flute and groove casts are abundant at the base of
sandstone beds
Trace fossils Common to abundant Absent
Body fossils Foraminifera and algae sparse to common Absent
Associated Algal and foraminiferal limestones, olistoliths, olistostromes and chaotic Such lithofacies are absent
lithofacies sandstone-shale
Palaeocurrent Variable for Mithakhari Group and towards east and northeast for Kalipur Consistently towards south for the whole Andaman Flysch
direction Shibpur section
Heavy mineral Heavy minerals are relatively less than Flysch and Zircon grains are Zircon grains are mostly rounded and are of recycled origin
composition prismatic, mostly magmatic origin
Sediment Volcanic arc and accreted ophiolite with minor input from metamorphic and Uplifted Continental blocks of Western Burma with less than 5%
provenance sedimentary rocks input from arc
Depositional Slope basins on an accretionary setting Open deep sea fan
Sedimentary Shallow water to subaerial environment Deposition consistently in deep water
Stratigraphic Late Palaeocene to Eocene Oligocene
Isotopic age UPb zircon and apatite FT ages from Namunagarh Grit, South Andaman UPb zircon and apatite FT ages from sandstones suggest deposition
Island suggest deposition after 60 Ma and no later than 40 Ma between 30 and 20 Ma

could have formed a low outer arc ridge, thereby creating a low-ly- et al., 1975), suggest that the out building and up-building of the
ing terraced-type of forearc basin for the deposition of turbidites. accretionary wedge was at its maximum in the North Andaman Is-
Evidence of accretion-related deformation in Paleogene turbidites, lands and the accretionary process was possibly restricted along
previously unknown, together with association of olistoliths, olist- the eastern side of the island chain. Whereas the western side rep-
ostromes, and ophiolite melanges of Late cretaceous age, suggest resents an open deep sea fan that was thickest and widest in the
an accretionary setting for the volcaniclastic turbidites, thereby Great Nicobar Island. This observed geological development is sig-
favouring deposition in trench slope basins and trench oor, as sug- nicantly different from other studies describing the entire And-
gested in this study. Analogous formations (Oligocene Oyo Complex aman and Nicobar Islands/ridge as an accretionary prism (outer
and Lower Miocene Nias Beds) on the Nias Island have however arc ridge) (Roy, 1992; Pal et al., 2003).
been described as product of forearc basin sedimentation (Samuel The Andaman Flysch suggests the enhanced weathering of an
et al., 1995, 1997). In Nias Island identication of a single, strati- uplifted terrane and a signicant supply of terrigeneous siliciclas-
graphically continuous, OligoceneLower Miocene sedimentary tics to a deep sea fan during early Oligocene global glaciations
succession and chaotic rocks of Oyo Complex as a diapiric melange, and drop of sea level in the order of 140 m at 30 Ma that must have
instead of a tectonic melange, was crucial to suggest deposition of been driven by tectonic forces (Prothero et al., 2003; Curray and
the OligoceneLower Miocene sediments in forearc basins. Prior to Allen, 2008; Haq et al., 1987).
these soundly based studies, the geology of Nias Island was incor-
rectly interpreted in terms of an accretionary complex (Moore and
8. Conclusion
Karig, 1980). The Paleogene succession of the Andaman Island is
not stratigraphically continuous, instead, characterized by an imbri-
The KalipurShibpur sandstone turbidites in North Andaman Is-
cate stack of easterly dipping thrust slices. The deformed chaotic
land are not Oligocene-aged Andaman Flysch, instead they repre-
turbidites on the Ramnagar coast show evidence of accretion-re-
sent Eocene-aged Namunagarh Grit of the Mithakhari Group and
lated deformation structures and lack signatures of shale diapirism.
that the turbidites of the Kalipur and Corbyns Cove sections were
These attributes suggest a different (accretionary) tectonic setting
not produced by the same gravity ows neither deposited in the
for Mithakhari Group (melange unit), in spite of the fact that the
same fan system. The Andaman subduction complex incorporates
AndamanNicobar Islands represents the northern continuation of
Paleogene turbidites of different ages, provenances, tectonic envi-
Nias, Simule, Mentawai islands, offshore of Sumatra.
ronments and paleogeographic settings. The feldspatholithic to
The volcaniclastic sandstones indicate that a volcanic arc was a
quartzofeldspathic petrofacies in volcaniclastic sandstones indi-
major source of sediment. Much before the opening of the And-
cate a shift of sediment provenance from undissected volcanic
aman Sea the Palaeogene reconstruction of the Andaman region
arc to deeply dissected arc exposing plutonic crystalline massif
(Hall, 2002) shows position of Andaman Islands close to the littoral
during the Paleogene evolution of the Andaman and Nicobar Island
states of Burma. The volcanic arc was most likely located on the
Arc. The Paleogene turbidite deposits bear signatures of magmatic
western margin of the BurmaMyanmar continental crust, as pro-
and orogenic provenances.
posed previously (Bandopadhyay, 2005). The volcaniclastic sand-
stones thus bear signicance in understanding the Paleogene
palaeogeography of this part of Western Sunda Arc. Acknowledgements
The distribution of the Andaman Flysch and the Mithakhari
Group in the Andaman Islands (Fig. 1) and the Andaman Flysch I gratefully acknowledge the excellent reviews by J. R. Curray,
covering virtually the whole of Great Nicobar Island (Karunakaran who has offered several constructive comments, suggested

Please cite this article in press as: Bandopadhyay, P.C. Re-interpretation of the age and environment of deposition of Paleogene turbidites in the Andaman
and Nicobar Islands, Western Sunda Arc. Journal of Asian Earth Sciences (2011), doi:10.1016/j.jseaes.2011.08.018
P.C. Bandopadhyay / Journal of Asian Earth Sciences xxx (2011) xxxxxx 11

pertinent changes and provided interesting discussion points that Critelli, S., Ingersoll, R.V., 1995. Interpretation of neovolcanic versus palaeovolcanic
sand grains: an example from Miocene deep-marine sandstone of the Topanga
immensely help improving the manuscript. I also value the excel-
Group (Southern California). Sedimentology 42, 783804.
lence and generosity (of time and knowledge imparted) implicit Curray, J.R., Allen, R., 2008. Evolution. Paleogeography and sediment provenance,
within reviews by A. J. Barber (3rd Reviewer) that no doubt was Bay of Bengal, Indian Ocean. Golden Jubilee Memoir of the Geological Society of
seminal for improving the paper. The detailed English language India 66, 487520.
Curray, J.R., 2005. Tectonics and history of the Andaman Sea region. Journal of Asian
corrections in the revised text were also kindly undertaken by Earth Sciences 25, 187232.
Barber. I sincerely thank Dr Andrew Carter for introducing me into Dickinson, W.R., 1982. Compositions of sandstones in Circum-Pacic subduction
the problem of Kalipur turbidites. Shri Anindya Bhattacharyya, complexes and forearc basins. Bulletin of the American Association of
Petroleum Geologists 66, 121137.
provided lively company in the eld, Dr. Amitava Lahiri and Dickinson, W.R., Seely, D.R., 1979. Structure and stratigraphy of forearc regions.
Dr Wanjarwadkar identied the foraminifera in thin section of Bulletin of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists 63, 231.
Kalipur and Rampur samples. Mrs Aparajita Dutta prepared the Dickinson, W.R., 1970. Interpreting detrital modes of greywacke and arkose. Journal
of Sedimentary Petrology 40, 695707.
computer drawing of Fig. 1 and Mr Surabhi Prasad Singh of Gururaja, M.N., Rao, B.R.J., 1976. Upper eocene foraminifera from South Andaman
Geodata division, Northern Region, GSI kindly incorporated several Island. Proceedings of the VI Indian colloquium on Micropaleontology and
corrections in Fig. 1. I acknowledge the help and cooperation of my Stratigraphy, Hyderabad, India, pp. 122125.
Haq, B.U., Hardenball, J., Vail, P.R., 1987. Chronology of uctuating sea level since
colleagues of the geological Survey of India. the Triassic. Science 235, 11561167.
Hall, R., 2002. Cenozoic geological and plate tectonic evolution of SE Asia and SW
Pacic: computer based reconstructions, model and animations. Journal of
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