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Neotectonic activity along the Odisha coast, India: Implications for the collapse of the Konark Sun temple and extinction of the ancient River Chandrabhaga

Abstract

This study focuses on finding the causes for the collapse of Sun temple, Konark, Odisha, India and the disappearance of the ancient Chandrabhaga river using satellite imagery and geophysical data. Gravity and magnetic anomalies near the Sun temple reveal the presence of two sets of faults trending NW–SE and NE–SW. The 3D gravity inversion depth model reveals an uplift-depression structure associated with these faults, which are steeply dipping in the proximity of the Sun temple. Reactivation of these faults is supported by evidences such as shifting of river channels, asymmetric arrangement of ox-bow lakes and combing features along the river bank, changes in the sinuosity index (SI) of the Kushabhadra, Kadua and Patharbuha rivers, all distributaries of the Mahanadi, against these faults. The most notable feature is the truncation of older channels by the present Patharbuha river, which instead of flowing towards the sea, meets the Kadua river to the east; this is interpreted to be linked to the reactivation of the NW–SE fault which results in the extinction of River Chandrabhaga. Remnants of River Chandrabhaga are present near the Sun temple. The timing of sediment deposition due to channel shifting, as well as fluvial morphological changes along the coast are found to be contemporaneous with the building and collapse of the Konark temple.

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Acknowledgements

The author is thankful to the US Geological Survey for providing satellite data for research purpose. They also thank two anonymous reviewers for their comments and suggestions which greatly helped in improving the manuscript. This work is a part of a larger project being undertaken under the SANDHI initiative at IIT Kharagpur, funded by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (Now Ministry of Education, Government of India). We express our thanks to Minisrty of Education for the funding.

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SJ conducted all the technical study, including collection and processing of geophysical data and all image processing and interpretation. WKM contributed to interpretation and analysis and supervised the entire study. PK was associated with geophysical data collection and processing. SG contributed in the field, data interpretation and writing of the final version.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to William Kumar Mohanty.

Additional information

Supplementary material pertaining to this article is available on the Journal of Earth System Science website (http://www.ias.ac.in/Journals/Journal_of_Earth_System_Science).

Communicated by Aparna Shukla

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Jana, S., Mohanty, W.K., Kumar, P. et al. Neotectonic activity along the Odisha coast, India: Implications for the collapse of the Konark Sun temple and extinction of the ancient River Chandrabhaga. J Earth Syst Sci 130, 213 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12040-021-01708-w

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Keywords

  • Chandrabhaga
  • Konark Sun temple
  • Patharbuha
  • residual gravity anomaly
  • sinuosity index