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Episodes 2020; 43(1): 609-621

Published online March 1, 2020


Copyright © International Union of Geological Sciences.

Gravity Anomalies, Isostasy and Density Structure of the Indian Continental Lithosphere

Niraj Kumar, A.P. Singh, V.M. Tiwari*

CSIR-National Geophysical Research Institute, Uppal Road, Hyderabad, INDIA; * Email: Virendra.m.tiwari@gmail.com

Correspondence to:Email: Virendra.m.tiwari@gmail.com

Received: November 6, 2019; Revised: December 12, 2019; Accepted: December 12, 2019

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0) which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Gravity anomalies across the Indian region depict most of the geological and tectonic domains of the Indian continental lithosphere, which evolved through Archean cratonic nucleation, Proterozoic accretion, Phanerozoic India-Eurasia plate convergence, and modification through many thermal perturbations and rifting. Integrated analysis of gravity and geoid anomalies together with topographic and heat flow data led to deciphering the mechanism of isostatic compensation of topographic and geological loads, lithospheric structure, and composition. This study discusses the nature of gravity (free-air, Bouguer and Isostatic) and geoid anomalies in relation to the topography, geology, and tectonics, and presents a lithospheric density model across the peninsular India and Himalaya. Southern peninsular Indian region shows relatively low Bouguer gravity anomalies compared to the northern region. The mobile belts are generally observed to have relatively higher Bouguer gravity anomalies, e.g., Eastern Ghats Mobile Belt compared to the shield regions. The gravity lows are observed over topographic features like the Western Ghats and Himalaya, while some of the topographic highs like Aravalli show positive gravity anomaly. The Indian Ocean Geoid Low varies from -82 m over Dharwar Craton to -98 m over the Southern Granulite Terrain and finally reaches a significant low of -106 m in the Indian Ocean. Flexural isostatic compensation with variable Effective Elastic Thickness (EET) ~10 km to 50 km prevails over the stable continental region. The lithospheric thickness varies from 80 km along the coastal region to 120-130 km beneath the Saurashtra Plateau, the Southern Granulite Terrain, and the Eastern Indian Shield, and reaches to more than 200 km under the Himalayan orogenic belt in the north. From Dharwar Craton to Bundelkhand Craton in central India, the lithospheric thickness varies between 160 and 180 km.