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Geology of the saucer-shaped sill near Mahad, western Deccan Traps, India, and its significance to the Flood Basalt Model

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Abstract

An ∼22-m-thick saucer-shaped sill occurs near Mahad and is exposed as a curvilinear, miniature ridge within the Deccan Traps. The sill has variable dips (42–55°). It has a 7.1-km long axis and 5.3 km short axis (aspect ratio of 1.4) and is larger than the MV sill of the Golden Valley sill complex, South Africa and the Panton sill, Australia. The sill has distinct glassy upper and lower chilled margins with a coarse-grained highly jointed core. The samples from the margin are invariably fractured and iron stained because of deuteric alteration. The rock from the sill is plagioclase-phyric basalt. At least three thick sill-like apophyses emanate from the base of the main sill. The apophyses change direction because of bending and thinning from a horizontal concordant sheet at the top to a discordant inclined form that bends again to pass into a lower horizontal concordant sheet. We interpret such features as ‘nascent saucer-shaped sills’ that did not inflate to form nested sills. Geochemically, the sill consists of poorly differentiated tholeiitic basalt that has a restricted geochemical range. Critical trace element ratios and primitive mantle normalised trace and REE patterns indicate that the sills have geochemical affinities to the Poladpur chemical type and that the pahoehoe flow they intrude belongs to the Bushe Formation. Calculated magmatic overpressures during sill emplacement range from 8.4 to 11.3 MPa (for Young’s modulus E = 5 GPa) and 16.7 to 22.5 MPa (for E=10 GPa) and depth to magma chamber ranges from 8.5 to 11.5 km (E = 5 GPa) and 17.1 to 22.9 km (E = 10 GPa), consistent with petrological and gravity modelling. The volume of the Mahad sill is approximately 276 km3 and is constant irrespective of the variations in the values of host-rock Young’s modulus. In 1980, Cox (J Petrol 21:629–650, 1980) proposed a conceptual model of the crust–mantle section beneath the Karoo CFB which is considered as the fundamental model for flood basalt volcanism. Our paper confirms the presence of a sill plus the inferred substructure beneath Mahad that are compatible with predictions of that model. In LIPS, saucer-shaped sills are formed in areas experiencing extensional tectonics where processes such as the Cook–Gordon delamination and Dundurs elastic extensional mismatch between layered sedimentary rocks or lava flows are responsible for the deflection of dykes into sills. A similar process is envisaged for the formation of the Mahad sill.

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Acknowledgements

We thank Mustaqueem Inamdar and Raguram for help during the fieldwork. Drs. V Balram, DV Subbarao and Uma Nagpal are thanked for their help during geochemical analyses. We also thank Prof. James DL White, Prof. Agust Gudmundsson, Dr. Makarand Bodas and Ninad Bondre for their supportive reviews.

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Correspondence to Raymond A. Duraiswami.

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Editorial responsibility: A. Gudmundsson

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Duraiswami, R.A., Shaikh, T.N. Geology of the saucer-shaped sill near Mahad, western Deccan Traps, India, and its significance to the Flood Basalt Model. Bull Volcanol 75, 731 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00445-013-0731-4

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Keywords

  • Dyke
  • Sill
  • Saucer-shaped sill
  • Flood basalt
  • Panvel flexure
  • Deccan Traps