The sylhet traps, their tectonic history, and their bearing on problems of indian flood basalt provinces
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Recent studies of the Sylhet Traps (? Jurassic) and the overlying Cretaceous-Tertiary sedimentary cover in the southern part of the Khasi Hills, Shillong Plateau in Assam have led to a reconstruction of the tectonic history of the area since Jurassic times; a clear picture regarding the nature of volcanism has also emerged. The history begins with effusion of tholeiitic basalts, apparently through E-W fissures developed in the peneplaned crystalline basement. One of these fractures became a fault (the Raibah fault) along which the northern non-volcanic block moved up relative to the southern block experiencing volcanism. The fault was active during and after the volcanism till Upper Cretaceous times. The sequence of eruption was as follows: (1) tholeiitic basalts, (2) minor alkali basalts (nepheline tephrite), (3) tholeiitic basalts, (4) localised explosive effusion of minor rhyolites and acid tuffs, and (5) tholeiitic basalts.
Neither feeder dykes nor volcanic vents have been noted in the Sylhet Traps. There are no agglomerates among the basic flows; the fragmental rocks are actually flow breccias. The formation of the various structures such as flow breccias, layering and flow folds in many of the basalt flows are thought to have been controlled by the angle of slope and the rate of flow. Thus, the Sylhet Trap flood basalts are characterised by quiet effusion through linear fissures.
The effusion was followed by a dyke phase, intruding also along E-W fractures, expecially in the monoclinally bent southern portion; the subsequent tectonic history of the area is also characterised by relative uplift and downsinking of different basement blocks.
It is concluded that in the Shillong Plateau uparching of the basement led to fracturing, effusion of basalts apparently along some zones of fissuring along which differential vertical movement of basement blocks was taking place.
In the light of the foregoing conclusions, available data on the tectonics of the Rajmahal and the Deccan Traps are examined; both these flood basalt provinces have suffered broadly similar tectonic histories as the Sylhet Traps.
The various features of flood basalts, viz., large extent, huge thickness, subaerial nature, a post-volcanic dyke phase are interpreted as a consequence of fusion of the Upper Mantle, development of tensional fractures eruptions apparently along fractures between adjoining basement blocks undergoing differential uplift.
KeywordsDeccan Trap Flood Basalt Alkali Basalt Tholeiitic Basalt Dyke Swarm
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