• V Purnachandra Rao

      Articles written in Journal of Earth System Science

    • Late Quaternary sea level and environmental changes from relic carbonate deposits of the western margin of India

      V Purnachandra Rao G Rajagopalan K H Vora F Almeida

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      Relic carbonate deposits along the western margin of India occur as dolomite crusts, aragonite sands (pelletal / oolitic) and aragonite-cemented limestones, oyster shells, corals, encrusted coralline algal and foraminiferal-dominated nodules. The petrology and mineralogy of the deposits indicate that except for aragonite sands and foraminiferal nodules, the others were formed in shallow marine conditions and serve as sea level indicators. Radiocarbon dates were measured for 62 relic deposits covering the entire margin. The age of these deposits on the continental shelf off Cape Comorin and Mangalore, between 110 and 18 m depth, ranges between 12, 61014C yr BP and 6,39014C yr BP. On the northwestern margin of India, especially on the carbonate platform (between 64 and 100 m), the age ranges from 17,250 to 6,73014C yr BP. The relic deposits of the Gulf of Kachchh at depths between 35 and 25 m are dated at 12,550–9,63014C yr BP. The age vs. depth plot of the relic deposits further indicates that the Gulf of Kachchh was inundated much early, atleast by 15 ka, after the Last Glacial Maximum, and was subjected to uplift and subsidence during the Holocene. The carbonate platform subsided during the early Holocene. Some of the relic deposits between Cape Comorin and Mangalore plot on or, closely follow the glacio-eustatic sea level curve. Despite abundant siliciclastic flux discharged by the Narmada and Tapti during the early Holocene, the platform off these rivers is largely devoid of this flux and carbonate sedimentation continued until 6,70014C yr BP. We suggest that the river-derived sediment flux diverted southwards under the influence of the SW monsoon current and, thereby, increased the turbidity on the shelf and slope southeast of the carbonate platform and facilitated the formation of deeper water foraminiferal nodules off Vengurla-Goa.

    • Origin of Cretaceous phosphorites from the onshore of Tamil Nadu, India

      V Purnachandra Rao Pratima M Kessarkar R Nagendra E V S S K Babu

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      Cretaceous phosphorites from the onshore of Tamil Nadu have been investigated for their origin and compared with those in the offshore. Cretaceous phosphorites occur as light brown to yellowish brown or white nodules in Karai Shale of the Uttatur Group in the onshore Cauvery basin. Nodules exhibit phosphatic nucleus encrusted by a chalky shell of carbonate. The nucleus of the nodules consists of light and dark coloured laminae, phosphate peloids/coated grains and detrital particles interspersed between the laminae. Scanning electron microscope (SEM) studies reveal trapping and binding activity of microbial filaments. A mat structure with linearly arranged microbial filaments and hollow, cell-based coccoid cyanobacterial mat are present. Nodules contain abundant carbonate fluorapatite, followed by minor calcite, quartz and feldspar. The P2O5 content of the phosphorites ranges from 18 to 26%. The CaO/P2O5, Sr and F contents are higher than that of pure carbonate fluorapatite. Concentrations of Si, Al, K, Fe, and Ti are low. We suggest that the nuclei of the nodules represent phosphate clasts related to phosphate stromatolites formed at intertidal conditions. At high energy levels the microbial mats were disintegrated into phosphate clasts, coated with carbonate and then reworked into Karai Shale. On the other hand, Quaternary phosphorites occur as irregular to rounded, grey coloured phosphate clasts at water depths between 180 and 320m on the continental shelf of Tamil Nadu. They exhibit grain-supported texture. Despite Quaternary in age, they also resemble phosphate stromatolites of intertidal origin and reworked as phosphate clasts onto the shelf margin depressions. Benthic microbial mats probably supplied high phosphorus to the sediments. Availability of excess phosphorus seems to be a pre-requisite for the formation of phosphate stromatolites.

    • Wind-driven estuarine turbidity maxima in Mandovi Estuary, central west coast of India

      Pratima M Kessarkar V Purnachandra Rao R Shynu Ishfaq Mir Ahmad Prakash Mehra G S Michael D Sundar

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      Systematic studies on the suspended particulate matter (SPM) measured on a seasonal cycle in the Mandovi Estuary, Goa indicate that the average concentrations of SPM at the regular station are ∼20mg/l, 5mg/l, 19mg/l and 5mg/l for June–September, October–January, February–April and May, respectively. SPM exhibits low-to-moderate correlation with rainfall indicating that SPM is also influenced by other processes. Transect stations reveal that the SPM at sea-end stations of the estuary are at least two orders of magnitude greater than those at the river-end during the monsoon. Estuarine turbidity maximum (ETM) of nearly similar magnitude occurs at the same location in two periods, interrupted by a period with very low SPM concentrations. The ETM occurring in June–September is associated with low salinities; its formation is attributed to the interactions between strong southwesterly winds ($5.1–5.6ms^{−1}$) and wind-induced waves and tidal currents and, dominant easterly river flow at the mouth of the estuary. The ETM occurring in February–April is associated with high salinity and is conspicuous. The strong NW and SW winds ($3.2–3.7ms^{−1}$) and wind-driven waves and currents seem to have acted effectively at the mouth of the estuary in developing turbidity maximum. The impact of sea breeze appears nearly same as that of trade winds and cannot be underestimated in sediment resuspension and deposition.

    • Lime muds and their genesis off-Northwestern India during the late Quaternary

      V Purnachandra Rao A Anil Kumar S W A Naqvi Allan R Chivas B Sekar Pratima M Kessarkar

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      Two sediment types were found in five gravity cores collected from water depths between 56 m and 121 m along the northwestern continental margin of India: lime muds were abundant in the lower section while siliciclastic sediments dominated the upper section. Lime mud-dominated sediments in shelf cores contained 60%–75% carbonate, 0.3%–0.6% Sr and terrigenous minerals, whereas those at the shelf break were found to have < 90% carbonate, 0.6%–0.8% Sr and traces of terrigenous minerals. Aragonite needles showing blunt edges, jointed needles and needles wrapped in smooth aragonite cement were found to be common. Stable (O and C) isotopes of lime mud indicate a potentially freshwater contribution for shelf cores and purely marine contribution for those at the shelf break. Calibrated radiocarbon ages of the lime muds ranged from 17.6–11.9 ka in different cores. The results reported here suggest that the lime muds in the shallow shelf are probably reworked from the Gulf of Kachchh, whereas those at the shelf break were biodetrital, initially formed on the carbonate platform during low stands of sea level and then exported. The change in lime mud-dominated to siliciclastic-dominated sediments in the cores may be due to climate change and rapid rise in sea level during the early Holocene.

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