Gemstones and Earth history: A Gondwana perspective
Division of Interdisciplinary Science, Faculty of Science, Kochi University, Akebono-cho 2-5-1, Kochi 780-8520, Japan Tel. and Fax: +81-88-844-8278. E-mail: email@example.com;
Abstract The Solid Earth can be considered to comprise a plate tectonics domain with broadly horizontal motion in the upper mantle, plume tectonics dominated by vertical movements in the lower mantle region and an ‘anti-plate tectonics’ zone characterized by horizontal movements at the bottom of the mantle. Large plumes rising from the core-mantle boundary act as pipes connecting the core to the surface, and play an important role in material transfer within the Solid Earth. The history of evolution of our planet witnessed the assembly of continental blocks within large land masses called supercontinents at different periods. The formation of mineral resources, including various types of gemstones, is broadly related to the assembly, evolution and break-up of supercontinents and associated thermal events. Among the supercontinents in Earth history, the Gondwana assembly at around 540 million years ago comprises continental fragments which are the treasure chests of a variety of mineral deposits including gemstones. A typical example is southern India, which formed the central piece of Gondwana, where gemstone belts provide marker belts for continental correlations. The Karur-Kangayam belt and the southern Kerala belt host a variety of precious and semi-
kornerupine, topaz, zircon, garnet, tourmaline, amethyst, among others.
gemstones are hosted by both metamorphic rocks as well as magmatic and related pegmatitic/hydrothermal phases. Understanding the formation of these belts provide valuable insights into the tectonics of the region and correlation with global processes. Gemstones have played an important role in the history of human society. Public awareness programmes on gemstones would not only aid in promoting gem industry, but would also help in a proper understanding of Earth history. This would also be a befitting appreciation of Mother Nature’s fascinating expressions through precious and semi-precious stones meticulously crafted at different times over the 4.6 billion year history of the Earth.
Key words: Gemstones, Earth history, supercontinents, Gondwana, southern India.
The outer layer of the Earth is like a cracked egg shell and is constituted of a number of lithospheric plates. These plates are in constant motion, moving away from each other, sliding past or colliding. The horizontal motion of the lithospheric plates on the surface of the Earth is explained by the concept of plate tectonics and contributes to the generation of new crust at spreading centers which is transported and eventually destroyed at subduction zones (Fig. 1). The subduction zones are also production centers where hydrous melting generates arc magmas which rise up and build the arc crust above. In convergent zones, the subducting plate moves vertically down like a curtain-like sheet until it reaches the mantle transition zone between 410 to 660 km depth where the material accumulates as ‘subducted slabs’ (Fig. 2). Some, but not all, of the subducted slabs may descend vertically as blobs, reaching the core-mantle
moves horizontally at the core-mantle boundary. 2007. Accordingly. inferred from seismic tomography. Arc-arc collision and formation of composite arcs led to the development of embryonic continents which subsequently amalgamated to form larger continental masses (Fig. The subducted slab material.. two hot upwellings corresponding to superplumes are identified. or radioactive heat generated from enriched basaltic slab remnants.. Recent models propose that a third layer of continental crust might have accumulated over time on the mantle transition zone. Thus. The implication of horizontal movement at the base of the mantle has been referred to as “anti-plate tectonics”. In the present day Earth. This material provides a potential trigger as well as the essential fuel for the generation of superplumes either through heating from the core.g.boundary (Zhao. and ‘anti-plate-’ tectonics (Fig.and lower-most levels of the mantle may play a profound role in the process of global material circulation. through time. and one cold downwelling (e. 2004. Maruyama et al. in many respects analogous to lithospheric plate tectonic processes operating in near-surface regions. it is conjectured that continents gradually develop at or close to the outer earth surface while concomitant ‘anti-continents’ would be generated at the core-mantle boundary (Maruyama et al. 2007. 2007). and play an important role in material transfer within the Solid Earth (Santosh et al. and references therein) where they accumulate as ‘slab graveyards’. eventually giving rise to hot spots. ‘plume-‘.. 4). Superplumes rise from the core-mantle boundary to the uppermost mantle. predominated by subducted granitic crust. melts and fluids between upper. 2007). geodynamic processes can be viewed on a whole as a combination of ‘plate-’. 2009a) (Fig. Thus. Thus plumes act as pipes connecting the core to the surface. Maruyama et al... the Pacific and African. or both. In the early 2 billion year history of the Earth. 3). penetrating the mantle transition zone. 2009a). 5)
.. there were no large continents and the surface of our planet was dominated by an oceanic realm with island arcs. Santosh et al. In other words. the Solid Earth can be considered to comprise a plate tectonics domain with broadly horizontal motion in the upper mantle. plume tectonics dominated by vertical movements in the lower mantle region and an ‘anti-plate tectonics’ zone characterized by horizontal movements at the bottom of the mantle (Maruyama et al..
A future supercontinent Amasia is speculated to form at around 250 million years from now. Gondwana (0.8-1. Supercontinents are large landmasses formed by the convergence of multiple continental fragments carrying ancient cratons. 2009b). eventually breaks them apart. either through radiogenic input (thermal blanket effect) or through the impingement of superplumes. and the crustal fragments move away to cooler regions on the globe to reassemble into newer configurations. and to trace the major surface environmental changes of our planet (Santosh. although it was much smaller in size as compared to that of some of the younger supercontinents. The first coherent supercontinent is thought to have been assembled by around 2.9 Ga). Supercontinent formation and destruction and associated geodynamic processes have been fundamental to the generation of the various types of mineral deposits in our planet. sometimes even triggering mass extinction of life forms.. 2009b). the resultant continental rifting. Columbia (1. formation of large igneous provinces and volcanic emissions might lead to the initiation of a plume winter.25 Ga) (e. 2004 and references therein. The configuration of supercontinents and pseudo-supercontinents which shaped the globe during various periods in Earth history as often found in literature are the hypothetical assembly Ur (3. together with accreted terranes.. because heating beneath the large land mass.(Santosh et al. Ga). 2010). Santosh et al. The continental fragments joined together to form megacontinents and these in turn were welded together into supercontinents. Large scale flow of material and energy through mantle downwelling and upwelling associated with supercontinent assembly and breakup is thought to affect the Earth’s dynamo which would lead to catastrophic environmental changes.0 Ga. When a rising plume impinges the base of a supercontinent.0 Ga).7-25. Supercontinents once assembled are not stable.
.54 Ga) and Pangea (0. Kenorland (2. Rogers and Santosh. Rodinia (1. The dynamics of supercontinents also impact the origin and extinction of life as well as surface environmental changes. to understand the history of life. the aftermath of which would be mass extinction and long term oceanic anoxia.g. Supercontinent tectonics in relation to mantle dynamics thus provides a key to evaluate the history of evolution and destruction of the continental crust..1 Ga).
This contribution is a partial summary of my inaugural address delivered at the Annual Meeting of the Indian Gemmological Society held in Munnar (Kerala) during 2009. minerals like emerald (a variety of beryl). The nature of magma/melt. I provide an overview of the gemstone occurrences in one of the principal crustal fragments that was part of the supercontinent Gondwana and discuss the implications in relation to geodynamics. the material transfer on a whole-earth scale controls these factors. the depth of formation (which essentially translates into pressure-temperature conditions). The primary growth of minerals occurs from melts and/or fluids associated with magmatic. amethyst. The duration of crystallization is also an important factor. Magmatism. and amethyst form in shallow levels from hydrothermal fluids emanating from the residual stage of crustal magmas or circulating fluids in the upper crust. turquoise. metamorphism and fluid processes associated with supercontinent dynamics critically control the formation of mineral resources. and does not claim to be a comprehensive review. the compositional characteristics of the associated fluids. Whereas diamonds form in deep-seated kimberlitic magmas generated in the mantle. metamorphic and sometimes even sedimentary environments. among other parameters. particularly In the case of large and well-formed crystals. Gemstones in relation to tectonic setting Rocks are aggregates of minerals and the formation conditions and stability of the mineral assemblages in different rock types are dictated by the tectonic environment of their genesis. Shorter duration or intermittent tectonic disturbances result in smaller grain size or malformation.
2. dictate the type of mineral assemblage. As mentioned above.including the formation of precious and semi-precious stones. and malachite/azurite precipitate from percolating water charged with different types of elements in the near-
. with elements transported from the core to the surface through plumes and recycled back through plate tectonics. Minerals like agate. opal.
We now briefly consider the gemstone ‘factories’ of the dynamic Earth from a layman’s point of view. In this contribution.
At much deeper levels. diamonds crystallize in rare magmas like kimberlites and lamproites which form by the partial melting of the upper mantle. jadeite. devoid of cracks and other abnormalities as they are naturally sorted with only the better lot surviving the long fluvial transport before deposition. Some of the other popular minerals of gemstone family such as sapphire and ruby (corundum). such as in the case of eclogites generated by ultrahigh-pressure metamorphism involving deep subduction of crustal materials in major continent-continent collision zones.
. The gas expansion within these magmas propels them to rise upward at rates of 10 to 30 km per hour. a variety of high temperature minerals are produced such as for example. iolite (cordierite). Depending on the tectonic setting and pressure-temperature conditions of metamorphism. alluvial stones carry prominent importance because they are easily recoverable and also due to their better quality.surface environment. tourmaline. the mineral assemblages vary widely to the extent that even diamonds (mostly micro-diamonds) can also crystallize in metamorphic rocks. chrysoberyl. If this water emanates from a magma emplaced at depth. The mechanisms of formation of placer deposits are linked to geomorphologic parameters which in turn are ultimately related to regional tectonics. within the cooling magma chambers. sillimanitekyanite. among others. taking just 4 to 15 hours to reach from mantle to the surface. These minerals preserve a long history of their formation in magmatic/metamorphic environment prior to their departure from the source through weathering of the host rocks and transport in fluvial medium and final accumulation within placer deposits. In gem industry. Further inside the bowels of the earth in the deep mantle. aquamarine). a variety of minerals are formed. are also formed in metamorphic rocks. zircon and topaz. kornerupine etc.
When magmatic rocks and sedimentary rocks are subjected to metamorphism. then it would have higher temperatures and would be concentrated with various elements that are scavenged from the residual magma leading to a variety of rich hydrothermal deposits including minerals like beryl (emerald. a typical example being garnet.
zircon garnet. High quality gemstones are found in India. Madagascar. firstly by the eastward rifting of Africa at 160 Ma to separate from North America. ruby.
3. followed by the Cretaceous opening in the central and southern Atlantic. Gold. The Gondwana gemstone treasury
Among the various supercontinents that shaped the surface or our globe from time to time. Sri Lanka. the formation of the Gondwana supercontinent during the Late NeproterozoicCambrian (ca. and finally Australia at 60 Ma. Antarctica.
. South Africa and South America. aquamarine. 2008) (Fig. tin-tungsten. giving rise to the mighty Himalayan Mountain Belt. and references therein. Meert and Lieberman. iron. molybdenum. together with the separation of India at 120-100 Ma. platinum-group metals. amethyst.A cartoon illustration of the different tectonic environments of formation of a few popular gemstones is shown in Fig. 2004. Australia. Madagascar. iron-ores. It was later rifted and fragmented. tantalum-niobium. uranium and graphite are among the variety of economic resources in these regions. tourmaline and a host of other semi-precious minerals. emerald. diamond.
The Gondwana crustal fragments are our planet’s treasure chests of a variety of economic mineralization and gemstone deposits. manganese. chrysoberyl. The Gondwana supercontinent comprises a large assembly of continental masses including India. Sri Lanka. base metals. India moved rapidly northward and collided against Asia at 50 Ma. sapphire. Brazil and East Africa including diamond. and formed the southern half of Pangea (Rogers and Santosh. 540 Ma) marks a turning point in the history of the Earth as it coincides with major environmental changes including the first appearance of the modern (metazoan) life forms. 7). 6.
In this contribution. Among these. the Aravalli-Delhi belt etc.4.
Southern India occupies a central position in the Late Neoproterozoic-Cambrian Gondwana supercontinent assembly. 0. (2009c) proposed the various stages associated with the final assembly of southern India within Gondwana (Fig.0 Ga. The Proterozoic mosaic of southern India comprises a collage of crustal blocks dissected by Late Neoproterozoic-Cambrian crust-scale shear/suture zones (Fig. Southern India comprises two major tectonic units: the Archean Dharwar Craton to the north and the Proterozoic granulite blocks to the south.
In a recent plate tectonic model. 9). A variety of mineralization including gemstones occurs in the different blocks associated with magmatic and metamorphic processes attending various thermal regimes during different periods in Earth history.0 Ga and Gondwana at ca. The different units belonged to different supercontinents in the past including the earliest supercontinent Ur at 3. Bastar and Bundelkhand) and surrounding younger belts (such as the Southern Granulite Terrain. Southern India as a fragment of Gondwana The Indian Peninsula comprises two major tectonic units: the South India and the North India crustal blocks which were welded along the Central India Tectonic Zone (the Narmada-Tapti River course) during the Paleo-Mesoproterozoic times. Singhbhum. India and Sri Lanka into East Antarctica. I will focus attention on the Gondwanarelated gem mineralization in southern India. The early part of the cycle witnessed a continental rifting stage and formation of the Mozambique Ocean basin probably at around 900-800 million years ago which extended all the way from East Africa through Madagascar. the Palghat-Cauvery Suture Zone (PCSZ) has been identified as the trace of the Cambrian suture representing Mozambique Ocean closure during the final phase of amalgamation of the Gondwana supercontinent.9 Ga. Each of these major units incorporate Archean cratons (such as Dharwar. Rodinia at 1.). Santosh et al. the Eastern Ghats Belt.54 Ga. Columbia at 1. 8). The charnockite massifs and associated granitoid suites covering a width of over 200 km in the Madurai
12). The nature and distribution of the rock types in this zone with charnockites and granites at the higher crustal level followed by mafic/ultramafic rocks and HP-UHT paired sequences towards the deeper level broadly corresponding with the southward polarity of ridge subduction and possible slab window opening. one of the possible scenarios for the HP-UHT conditions in a CO2-dominated fluid regime recorded from
.. Recently. high pressure and ultra-high temperature granulite facies rocks occur with diagnostic mineral assemblages of extreme metamorphism (e. (2009c) for the final amalgamation and generation of a Cambrian “Himalaya” in southern India is shown in Fig. 11). and that these arc massifs were generated by the southward subduction of an oceanic crust. particularly in the development of lower grade assemblages dominated by hydrous minerals. one along the Palghat-Cauvery Suture Zone and the other along the Achankovil Suture Zone further south during the final assembly of southern India within Gondwana. 2006. 2010) (Fig. Nishimiya et al. perhaps similar to the present day Indian Ocean.
Within various domains in the Palghat-Cauvery Suture Zone.. the trace of which is the Palghat-Cauvery Suture Zone.Block to the south Palghat-Cauvery Suture Zone in southern India. Post-collision Barrovian hydration is also widely noticed. The final stage is marked by post-orogenic extension and emplacement of minor late stage intrusive plutons widely occurring in various blocks and shear/suture zones. This model envisages two ocean closures. Santosh et al.. and their extension into adjacent continental fragments within Gondwana suggest that a large ocean must have been present. 2009c). accompanied by regional high grade metamorphism.g. A composite schematic illustration proposed by Santosh et al. Santosh and Kusky (2010) proposed a ridge subduction model to explain the paired high pressure and ultrahigh-temperature metamorphic rocks commonly occurring within the Palghat-Cauvery Suture Zone (Fig.. The closure of the Mozambique Ocean was marked by the collision of the Archean Dharwar craton in to the north to create a Himalayan-type Cambrian orogenic belt. The development of a wide accretionary belt with typical features of ocean plate stratigraphy associated with the closure of the Mozambique Ocean in the late Neoproterozoic has been recently recorded from this zone (Santosh et al. 2010. Shimpo et al. Thus.. 10.
and within a major suture zone where ocean closure. Ponnambalam).Oddanchathram and Palani areas.
5. spinel (Manavadi. and apparently belong to different genetic environments. 540-520 Ma ages. A number of semi-precious stones occur in this belt associated with various lithologies (Fig. among others. although their formation can be linked to processes accompanying the latest prominent thermal event in the region associated with the final amalgamation of the Gondwana supercontinent. alexandrite (Chinnadharapuram). 2009c) suggest ca. Geochronological data (summarized in Santosh et al. The gemstone belt occurs within a system of shear zones passing through Karur.
Santosh and Collins (2003) summarized the general features of the gemstone occurrences in the Karur-Kangayam belt.these rocks would be a model where the slab window was placed against a hot asthenosphere. amethyst (Kadavur) and garnet (Oddanchathram). apatite (Edapadi). Dharapuram. labradorite (Oddanchathram). kornerupine with cat’s eye (Edappadi. black tourmaline (Ottani). 13) These include star ruby and sapphire varieties of corundum together with cordierite of iolite type (Lachmanapatti.. Malapatti and Kiranur). deep subduction. aquamarine and emerald varieties of beryl (Manikapuram). yellow topaz (Dindigul). southern India is spread over an area of approximately 70 x 70 sq. Kunjampalayam). The varied gemstone mineralization in this belt are related to different lithologic horizons. metamsomatism and high grade metamorphism. The belt is located at a critical junction of contrasting crustal blocks. The gemstone province in southern India The Karur-Kangayam gemstone belt in Tamil Nadu. km and is located at the southern margin of the Palghat-Cauvery Suture Zone. bronzite with cat’s eye (Pulampatty).
. accretion and continental collision occurred accompanied by magmatism.
Composite grains of iolite and sunstone from these localities are used to make single stones with coupled deep blue and orange-brown hues. Hercynite spinel occurs in between the sapphirine-cordierite symplectite and moats of cordierite. with no direct contact with sapphirine. (2006) reported high pressure and ultrahigh-temperature metamorphic conditions derived from garnet and corundum bearing rocks. a location from where Shimpo et al. The feldspars contain numerous oriented and thin. Coarse sapphirine-corundum-cordierite-biotite assemblages also occur in this locality. Some of the exclusive varieties of feldspar with multiple sheen are locally termed as rainbow stones. A similar chatoyancy effect is also shown by some varieties of other semiprecious stones from Karur-Kangayam belt such as bytownite. another cordierite (iolite) and corundum (sapphire) mine..At the Lachmanapatti ruby mine. Star-ruby variety of corundum also occurs in other localities in the Karur-Kangayam belt. Large crystals of deep purple cordierite (iolite) occur in intimate association with corundum. grey. including Landakottai and Tantoni. 2003). tiny bluish sapphirine crystals occur enclosed within plagioclase (Tsunogae and Santosh. Corundum here occurs as coarse crystals surrounded by plagioclase. Corundum-bearing samples in Malapatty also contain gedrite and biotite. 1994). At Malapatty. bamboo green. The moonstone variety of feldspar in the Karur-Kangayam belt shows various hues including pearly white. and is identical to the chatoyancy observed in cat’s eye chrysoberyls from southern Kerala (see Menon et al. The gem varieties are characterized by a milky white sheen that moves across the crystal when rotated against the light. Symplectitic moats of cordierite form corona around corundum. Cordierite also occurs as symplectites in association with needle-like crystals of sapphirine (Tsunogae and Santosh. corundum crystals of various sizes ranging up to 5 cm occur. An exclusive variety of a blend of red ruby and blue sapphire within single crystals occur at Sevitturangampatti.
. kornerupine and spinel. Coarse cordierite crystals at Lachmanapatty and Kiranur are associated with feldspar of sunstone variety. elongate inclusions of brown biotite which impart bright reddish brown glitter in reflected light. light brownish pink and black. 2003).
such as the pink granite of Vattamali near Karur. For example. the moonstone variety of feldspar comes from late residual phase of granitic magmas. such as those mined near Onamparai. The corundum-bearing zone occurs metasedimentary unit. The ruby iolite-sunstone associations at Lachmanapatti and Kiranur are typical examples. 15 km west of Kangayam. corundum and cordierite-bearing amphibole-rich gneisses are intruded by N-S striking coarse pegmatite which also contains cordierite. The sunstone variety of feldspar occurs in intimate association with iolite variety of cordierite within pegmatites. the various varieties of moonstones.Kangayam belt are related to different lithologies and were derived by different processes in a wide range of pressure-temperature-fluid conditions. The semi-precious varieties of corundum (star ruby and sapphire). amethyst and crystal quartz also occur commonly. At Malapatty. The orthogniesses in the area contain deformed and boudinaged mafic enclaves of various dimensions ranging from centimeter to decimeter scale. The elongated needles of rutile. Another major attraction of this gem belt is the multiple variety of rutile-bearing quartz and amethyst. a 3 m thick garnet and phlogopite/biotite-bearing metasedimentary layer is intercalated within biotite and hornblende bearing orthogneisses. offer spectacular samples for collectors. occur within thick pegmatitic dykes almost entirely composed of feldspar and minor quartz. the evidence for which is abundant in the area. the different semi-precious stones in the Karur. Geologically. These pegmatites are often associated with metasedimentary layers carrying corundum. A coarse pegmatitic zone rich in feldspar and bluish cordierite occurs between the orthogniess and metasedimentary layer. Black tourmaline. On the other hand. and are seen within aluminous metasedimentary horizons occurring as thin slivers indise host orthogniesses. in the absence of cordierite and corundum. Evidently. and some crystals are up to a few centimetres in length. often black or sometimes in golden hue associated with hematite. spinel and kornerupine are related to metamorphic processes. at Lachmanapatty. Pegmatite emplacement and related hydrothermal activity also gave rise to various
.Aquamarine variety of beryl from Karur-Kangayam belt occurs in various sizes.
several other sapphire and ruby occurrences are also known. feldspars and others have aided petrologists working in this region to reconstruct the metamorphic and tectonic history. Similarly. topaz. Nishimiya et al. In Madagascar.other semi-precious minerals in the area including gem variety of beryl (aquamarine). One of the key gemstones is ruby. amethyst and crystal quartz.
. Apart from the gemstones. 6. suggesting metamorphic temperatures in excess of 1000 oC (e. the zones described are also of fundamental importance to petrologists as they often associate a variety of diagnostic indicator minerals for extreme metamorphic conditions. sillimanite. In addition. For example.. cordierite. the finding of high pressure assemblages within mafic granulites have aided in a better understanding of the subduction-collision tectonics in this area. 2010).. A variety of other associated minerals including garnet. Gemstone belts as marker beds for continental correlations The Karur-Kangayam gemstone occurrences provide a key belt to investigate the correlation between India and Madagascar within the Gondwana supercontinent assembly. 1999) and have been correlated with similar occurrences in Tanzania. Extensive new finds of gem-quality corundum have been reported from the central-eastern coast and from the north-central region of Madagascar. kyanite. tourmaline. Both these localities lie along the Betsimisaraka suture and therefore support correlation of the Betsimisaraka suture in Madagasacar with the Palghat-Cauvery Suture Zone system in India. low Zn spinel in association with quartz is also found in some locations suggesting extreme metamorphic temperatures. often in direct association with quartz.g. Gem variety of red corundum (ruby) from the Ejeda-Fotadrevo area in southwestern Madagascar are associated with basic/ ultrabasic complexes of the Precambrian Vohibory unit metamorphosed to granulite facies (Mercier et al. gedrite. many of the Mg-Al granulite layers in these zones associate the blue mineral sapphirine.
smoky quartz. blue spinel. Sapphires of various hues also occur in the Ratnapura gem district in the southwestern part of Sri Lanka. (1994) synthesized the occurrences and characteristics of semi-precious stones in the chrysoberyl belt of southern Kerala. Menon et al. precious and semi-
. durability and beauty. amethyst and cordierite. blue and green apatites. Among the important gemstones found in this region are the peacock's eye (alexandrite) and the cat's eye (chrysoberyl). However. In another study. have also been recovered from this region. Southern Kerala region in South India is among the historically important regions within Gondwana fragments for gemstone exploration and exploitation. Pink sapphires have been widely reported from a number of localities in southern Madagascar including Betroka. The pink sapphire occurrences in southern Madagascar and southern Kerala provide strong evidence for India-Madagascar-Sri Lanka juxtaposition in the Gondwana assembly with the Ranotsara Shear Zone in southern Madagascar extending into the Achankovil Shear Zone in southern India. (2002) reported pink sapphire from the Achankovil Shear Zone and Trivandrum Block in southern Kerala. Santosh et al. ruby. The available radiometric age of around 513 Ma for gem quality zircon associated with pink sapphire in the Melankode locality confirms that the mineralization is of late Pan-African age. green and golden zircons. The mineralization is sporadic and associated with granulite facies aluminous supracrustals. with recovery of a variety of gemstones continuing for over a century. more than 4000 million years ago. green beryl. topaz. Illakaka. 7. With their rarity. (2004) proposed a gemstone province in the East Gondwana assembly compiling similar occurrences in southern Kerala. aquamarine.In a previous study. gem stones have figured in various phases of the cultural history of human society. almandine and pyrope garnets. Sri Lanka and Madagascar. Some of the minerals like zircons date back from the early history of earth. Menon et al. kornerupine. among other minor varieties. feldspar (moonstone). Need for public awareness Gemstones are the flowers of Mother Earth crystallizing from magmas. Antranondambo and Ambossary. melts and fluids. Several semi-precious stones including translucent chrysoberyl.
Salim and “Karur Babu” without whose help and assistance. Acknowledgements I would like to sincerely thank Dr.. Santosh. I would like to thank my colleague Mr. A. References Maruyama. D. S.precious stones.
. the concepts from some of which are included in this manuscript. with whom I carried out a number of research studies on the metamorphic mineral assemblages in the gemstone belt of Karur and brought out several joint research publications in the recent years. The recovery and marketing of gemstones is often riddled with problems and local issues including regulations imposed by administrative authorities. K. Gems provide a better alternative against the mad rush for gold. particularly in developing countries. gem clubs and gem hunting expeditions should be organized to create public awareness which would open up immense possibilities for development and growth of the gem industry in the coming years. Ramachandran. Superplume. I had benefitted much from discussions as well as joint publications with Prof. have not been adequately recognized for their geologic complexity and cultural heritage among the common public. M. Tsunogae (Japan). Ramachandran for inviting this manuscript and for the immense patience and patronage in waiting for it. Kerala for inviting me to inaugurate the ceremony and for asking me to deliver a lecture. I also express my sincere thanks to many of my research collaborators. apart from their attraction as ornamental stones. I am particularly thankful to Dr. Maruyama (Japan) regarding Earth history and mantle dynamics. T. supercontinent.. and the organizers of the 10 th IGS in Munnar. Mineral markets. Hon.K. 7–37. and postperovskite: Mantle dynamics and anti–plate tectonics on the core-mantle boundary: Gondwana Research 11. Secretary of the Gemmological Society of India. I would not have had the chance to study the gemstone belt of Karur-Kangayam area. with the ever-increasing demand for the yellow metal particularly in developing countries.T.. particularly Dr. Zhao. 2007. S.
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Figure captions Fig. Fluid characteristics of retrogressed eclogites and mafic granulites from the Cambrian Gondwana suture zone in southern India Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology 159. 349–369. S. Sato. S.129.. 321341.. 2009a. 2003. M. 1 Schematic illustration of divergent and convergent plate tectonics showing the birth of oceanic plate at the mid oceanic ridge and its subduction at the trench.. Origin of paired high pressure-ultrahigh-temperature orogens: A ridge subduction and slab window model Terra Nova 22. 2010. Dubessy. 35-42. Tsunogae. T. S. Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors.. T. superdownwelling and the role of tectosphere. 2010. 2009b. M. The principal magma production factories are at the ridge and also in the subduction zone. Shimpo. doi: 10.
. Shimizu. Santosh. First report of garnet-corundum rocks from southern India: implications for prograde high-pressure (eclogite facies?) metamorphism. M. Santosh. Omori. Madurai Block. M. Santosh. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 242.. 925-930. Zhao. Santosh.. K. Lithosphere (Geological Society of America).. K. M. Sato. 146. Maruyama. and Santosh. K. 2006. S.. Sapphirine and corundum bearing granulites from Karur. J.Santosh. southern India. The making and breaking of supercontinents: some speculations based on superplume.. Kusky. 2009c Anatomy of a Cambrian suture in Gondwana: Pacific-type orogeny in southern India? Gondwana Research 16. T. H. 111. T. M. Global tomographic images of mantle plumes and subducting slabs: insight into deep earth dynamics. A fluid factory in Solid Earth. Gondwana Research 15.. 2004. Maruyama.1130/L2.. Tsunogae. Tsunogae.
The subducted slab from the trench is hydrous. and has not yet entered into the lower mantle. (b) Thermal structure of the Earth. The vertically rising superplume enters into the upper mantle. Mid oceanic ridge basalt (MORB) subducted at the trench sinks through the mantle transition zone and finally drops down to the core-mantle boundary (CMB). After the Neoproterozoic. surface water started to be transported into the mantle transition zones (410 to 660 km). 2004). Fig.. 3 (a) Cartoon speculating the fluid distribution from surface to the core of the Earth (after Santosh et al. For the major part of the Earth’s fluid history. 2 P-wave tomography of the Western Pacific region showing slab graveyards (after Zhao. The return flow of water is thought to have been initiated probably after 750 Ma. MORB.. the fluid transport was mostly one way. The MORB components are then heated up by the outer core leading to partial melting.Mid oceanic ridge basalt. (after Maruyama et al. MORMid ocean ridge. might indicate subducted felsic material. The flat-lying stagnant slabs in the mantle transition zone extends for over 2000 km. Surface CO2 has been selectively transported into the mantle in the Hadean to the Archean. and deliver the mantle fluid (mainly C-O-H-S) to the surface. The vertical cross-section is shown for a profile passing through northeast China and central Japan.from the outer core to the surface. These hot spots cause the rifting of the continent. The dense iron rich melts accumulate on the bottom of the D” prime layer. The data indicate two hot upwellings (Pacific and African superplume) and one cold downwelling (Asian cold
. 2007). The remaining restite MORB with dominant andesitic composition rises upward to form superplume. (2007).in the latter case hydrous partial melting of the subducting slab generates arc magmas. The velocity perturbation scale is shown at the bottom. The origin of a superplume at the coremantle boundary is discussed in Maruyama et al. 2009a and references therein). and is heated up by the surrounding mantle which releases the water in the mantle wedge and enhances the viscosity. The low velocity anomalies under the Pacific slab in the upper and topmost lower mantle. if representing a compositional anomaly. Fig. transforms to horizontal and branches out into several hot spots.
penetrating the mantle transition zone and eventually giving rise to hot spots. 5 A generalized cartoon to show subduction or collision-amalgamation of intraoceanic arcs (after Santosh et al. 2007 for details).. 4 Cartoon illustrating the process of material circulation on a whole-earth scale controlled by plate.. Also shown are tectosphere-bearing surface continents and water subduction into the mantle boundary layer (mantle transition zone) where rising hydrous plumes are predicted.. Santosh et al. The implication of horizontal movement at the base of the mantle has been referred to as ‘anti-plate tectonics’. as inferred from seismic tomography.
Fig. it is conjectured that continents gradually develop at or close to the outer earth surface while concomitant ‘anti-continents’ would be generated at the CMB (Maruyama et al. may be plausibly considered to reach the core-mantle boundary. 2007. but in the Modern oceanic domain.. Accordingly.plume). and the heat given off by post-perovskite – perovskite phase transformation may contribute to generating small-scale plumes which ultimately coalesce into a superplume (see Maruyama et al. The Archean is dominated by tectospheric mantle domain. This recycled oceanic lithosphere is viewed as a potential trigger of. through time. 2009b). the superplume rising from the core-mantle interface to the uppermost mantle. B shows the parallel collision of arcs to increase the continental crust effectively on the earth by collisionaccretion of continental crust.
Fig. Radioactive heat generated in ‘enriched’ basaltic slab remnants. and contributor to. 2009a). Top figure shows vertical or orthogonal collision of arcs with a cross section of subducting arc crust. Orthogonal collision has a small cross section. The subducted slab material. The buoyancy of the continental crust is a function of its volume as discussed in the text. 2007).. there is no tectospheric
. in many respects analogous to lithospheric plate tectonic processes operating in near-surface regions. plume and anti-plate tectonics (after Maruyama et al. whereas parallel collision has a big cross section.
because tectosphere plays a dominant role in driving the Wilson cycle. 7 The configuration of Gondwana supercontinent at ca. (b) Magmatic and pegmatitic/hydrothermal environment. The volume of continental volume is relatively too small. the tectospheric mantle and oceanic mantle are mixed now.
8 Geological framework of southern India (after Santosh and Sajeev. In the continental region.
Fig. one of the reasons that can explain the Wilson cycle.
Fig. Judging from the width of Pacific-type TTG belts. similar to the present day Indian Ocean. 540 Ma (after Rino et al. although the tectonic settings are relatively similar. a 15 km thin felsic upper curst is anchored by 200-300 km thick tectosphere. for example. 2006)
showing the Archean Craton in the north and the various Proterozoic granulite blocks and the two major shear/suture zones in the south. 6 Cartoon illustration of two different types of geological settings of formation of representative gem minerals. 2008). Bimodal volcanics interlayered with clastics and impure platform carbonates with conformable
. and returned back to the surface. The birth of the Mozambique Ocean is speculated to be between 1 billion to 750 million years ago.. Therefore.. regionally metamorphosed at mantle depth.
Fig. tectosphere behaves as a buoyant mass for continent dispersion and amalgamation. 9 Cartoon cross-sections illustrating the rifting stage and Pacific-stage to explain the pre-collisional history of the southern Indian Gondwana fragment (after Santosh et al.mantle. (a) Near-surface environment. Note the presence of tectosphere under the Dharwar Craton and passive continental margin deposits which are ultimately incorporated in collision with the evolved arc at 540 Ma. the Mozambique Ocean must have been over 3000 km.
AM: amphibolite. and very low temperature conditions.. one major belt along the Palghat-Cauvery Suture Zone and another minor one along the Achankovil Suture Zone. VLT: very low temperature. HPhigh-pressure. 2010). ultrahigh-temperature. EA: epidote amphibolite. The thick rectangular box represents the P-T conditions for high pressure and ultrahigh-temperature granulites within the Palghat-Cauvery Suture Zone. The star denotes the peak P-T conditions estimated for the Sittampundi eclogite. and Lw-EC: lawsonite–eclogite. The figure shows that the rocks in this region have been subjected to extreme metamorphic conditions at high pressures and extreme temperatures.
Fig. 11 Combined P-T diagram showing data from mineral phase equilibria and fluid inclusions in high pressure granulites from the Palghat-Cauvery Suture Zone (after Santosh et al.. 10 Cartoon illustration showing a composite plate tectonic model for southern India from North (Archean Dharwar Craton) to South (Pacific-type orogen) with two major collisional orogens in between (after Santosh et al. The ranges of isochores for the two major fluid inclusion categories (high density and low density) are shown by shaded regions. Fields of extreme crustal metamorphism (shaded regions) include ultrahigh-pressure. UHT: ultrahigh-temperature. Amp-EC: amphibolite–eclogite. This model envisages the two Cambrian “Himalayas” in southern India. Abbreviations are UHP: ultrahigh-pressure. BS: blueschist. EC: eclogite. The Palghat-Cauvery Suture Zone represents the main suture developed through Mozambique Ocean closure. GR: granulite. The decompression P-T path (thick broken line with arrow) is also shown. HGR: high-grade granulite.
. GS: greenschist.
Fig. Ep-EC: epidote–eclogite. The cross section also covers Achankovil Suture Zone and Trivandrum Block up to the Nagercoil Block at the southern tip.relationship must have prevailed in a sequence quite different from the accretionary complex in the Pacific-type orogen. The Madurai Block represents a wide magmatic arc in between. 2009c).
(c) Cartoon illustrating the subduction-collision-accretion tectonics along the PCSZ with a southward polarity of the subducting oceanic plate. 2003). (c) and (d) Different varieties of moonstones and ‘rainbow stones’ from Kangayam belt.Fig. dismembered ophiolite and exhumed HP-UHP orogens are also shown. 2010) revealed equilibrium sapphirine+quartz in these rocks indicating metamorphic temperatures exceeding 1000oC. (j) Garnet-kaynitecorundum-sapphirine-gedrite-cordierite ultrahigh temperature metamorphic rock from Panangad. (h) Sunstones from Karur. (d) Geological map of the PCSZ area showing the locations of HP-UHT granulites. (e) Diopsidite from Edappadi known in the local market as black cat’s eye. The major location of accretionary belts. (b) Part of the central Gondwana assembly showing the trace of Late Neoproterozoic-Cambrian suture formed by the closure of Mozambique Ocean. (a) Corundum (ruby) in association with garnet and gedrite at Sevitturangampatti. (b) A large ruby crystal from the Lachmanapatti mine. 2010). (g) Beryl (including aquamarine variety) from Karur. Recent petrologic studies (Nishimiya et al. 13 Photographs of representative gemstones from the Karur-Kangayam belt of the southern Indian Gondwana fragment. The proposed slab window is shown by thick dashed lines. (i) Ultrahigh-temperature metamorphic rock from Sengal-Sakkarakkottai belt showing the association of sapphirine.
Fig. The location of the Palghat-Cauvery Suture Zone (PCSZ) is also shown. (f) Rutilebearing quartz and amethyst from Karur. 12 Ridge subduction model to explain the paired HP-UHT metamorphic rocks within the Palghat-Cauvery Suture Zone in the Cambrian Gondwana collisional suture of southern India (after Santosh and Kusky.
.. (a) Cartoon illustrating the pattern of ridge subduction and slab window opening (after Bradley.