Journal of Earth System Science

, Volume 110, Issue 4, pp 409–431 | Cite as

Generation of Deccan Trap magmas

  • Gautam Sen


Deccan Trap magmas may have erupted through multiple centers, the most prominent of which may have been a shield volcano-like structure in the Western Ghats area. The lavas are predominantly tholeiitic; alkalic mafic lavas and carbonatites are rare. Radioisotope dating, magnetic chronology, and age constraints from paleontology indicate that although the eruption started some 68 Ma, the bulk of lavas erupted at around 65–66 Ma. Paleomagnetic constraints indicate an uncertainty of ± 500,000 years for peak volcanic activity at 65 m.y. in the type section of the Western Ghats. Maximum magma residence times were calculated in this study based on growth rates of “giant plagioclase” crystals in lavas that marked the end phase of volcanic activity of different magma chambers. These calculations suggest that the > 1.7 km thick Western Ghats section might have erupted within a much shorter time interval of ∼ 55,000 years, implying phenomenal eruption rates that are orders of magnitude larger than any present-day eruption rate from any tectonic environment. Other significant observations/conclusions are as follows: (1) Deccan lavas can be grouped into stratigraphic subdivisions based on their geochemistry; (2) While some formations are relatively uncontaminated others are strongly contaminated by the continental crust; (3) Deccan magmas were produced by 15–30% melting of a Fe-rich lherzolitic source at ∼ 3–2 GPa; (4) Parent magmas of the relatively uncontaminated Ambenali formation had a primitive composition with 16%MgO, 47%SiO2; (5) Deccan magmas were generated much deeper and by significantly more melting than other continental flood basalt provinces; (6) The erupted Deccan tholeiitic lavas underwent fractionation and magma mixing at ∼ 0.2 GPa. The composition and origin of the crust and crust/mantle boundary beneath the Deccan are discussed with respect to the influence of Deccan magmatic episode.


Deccan Trap giant Plagioclase basalt age contamination fractional crystallization magma generation 


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© Printed in India 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gautam Sen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Earth Sciences and Florida Center for Analytical Electron MicroscopyFlorida International UniversityMiami

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