Journal of Biosciences

, Volume 34, Issue 5, pp 709–728 | Cite as

Deccan volcanism, the KT mass extinction and dinosaurs

  • G. Keller
  • A. Sahni
  • S. Bajpai


Recent advances in Deccan volcanic studies indicate three volcanic phases with the phase-1 at 67.5 Ma followed by a 2 m.y. period of quiescence. Phase-2 marks the main Deccan volcanic eruptions in Chron 29r near the end of the Maastrichtian and accounts for ∼80% of the entire 3500 m thick Deccan lava pile. At least four of the world’s longest lava flows spanning 1000 km across India and out into the Gulf of Bengal mark phase-2. The final phase-3 was smaller, coincided with the early Danian Chron 29n and also witnessed several of the longest lava flows.

The KT boundary and mass extinction was first discovered based on planktic foraminifera from shallow marine intertrappean sediments exposed in Rajahmundry quarries between the longest lava flows of the main volcanic phase-2 and smaller phase-3. At this locality early Danian (zone P1a) planktic foraminiferal assemblages directly overlie the top of phase-2 eruptions and indicate that the masse extinction coincided with the end of this volcanic phase. Planktic foraminiferal assemblages also mark the KT boundary in intertrappean sediments at Jhilmili, Chhindwara, where freshwater to estuarine conditions prevailed during the early Danian and indicate the presence of a marine seaway across India at KT time.

Dinosaur bones, nesting sites with complete eggs and abundant eggshells are known from central India surrounding the hypothesized seaway through the Narmada-Tapti rift zone. A Maastrichtian age is generally assigned to these dinosaur remains. Age control may now be improved based on marine microfossils from sequences deposited in the seaway and correlating these strata to nearby terrestrial sequences with dinosaur remains.


Deccan volcanism mass extinction 


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Copyright information

© Indian Academy of Sciences 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.GeosciencesPrinceton UniversityPrincetonUSA
  2. 2.Department of GeologyPanjab UniversityChandigarhIndia
  3. 3.Department of Earth SciencesIndian Institute of TechnologyRoorkeeIndia

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