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Episodes 2020; 43(1): 622-637

Published online March 1, 2020


Copyright © International Union of Geological Sciences.

Lithospheric framework of the Indian sub-continent through Seismic and Seismological Studies

Harish C. Tewari1 and Prakash Kumar2

1. E-57, Judge Farm, Haldwani-263139, India, ramaharish1@gmail.com
2. CSIR - National Geophysical Research Institute, Hyderabad-500007 India, Email: pk.ngri.csir@gmail.com

Correspondence to:Email: pk.ngri.csir@gmail.com

Received: May 27, 2019; Revised: October 13, 2019; Accepted: October 13, 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.


Knowledge of the crust and lithospheric structure of the Indian sub-continent primarily comes from several active and passive seismic experiments. These studies are i) controlled source, ii) surface wave studies, iii) receiver functions and v) tomographic studies. The results from these studies in the Indian shield have emanated several interesting features that were hitherto unknown. The peninsular, central and north-western part of the shields, Himalayan and Andaman-Nicobar regions have shown that continental collision and extension from the Proterozoic to Recent time has played an important role in formation and geodynamics of these features. The granulites, in the southern granulite terrain, are formed primarily due to the release of the carbonic fluids from the supracrustal rocks of the subduction zone and volcanic arc environment. These were later exhumed from the deep crust during the collision process. In the central Indian shield the Narmada-Son lineament and the central Indian suture are the main features of the crust. In the Narmada region, mafic intrusion in the upper crust appears to have played an important role in shaping the present structural trends. The Central Indian suture is a collision zone developed due to the interaction of the Bastar and Bundelkhand cratons. In the northwesternpart of the India, the Aravalli-Delhi trend is the controlling feature for the tectonics of the region. Demarcation of the various boundaries between different crustal units are marked across the trend, by changes in the dip direction and steeply dipping reflections, cutting across the nearly horizontal reflections at various depths in the crust. Plate tectonics appears to be responsible for generation of this belt. In the crustal block between the Delhi-Aravalli system and the Narmada-Son Lineament, which is running to the south of the Saurashtra peninsula the crust up uplifted by as much as 4 to 6 km as compared to the regions outside these trends.
Apart from the deep crustal structure, lithospheric and upper mantle studies till 660km depth have also been conducted in the entire Indian plate using seismological tools e.g. P-to-s and S-to-p receiver function, surface waves dispersion and tomographic studies. The Himalayan region shows the architecture of the under thrusting Indian plate beneath the Tibetan plate in the north and north-west, while the subduction beneath the Burmese arc has been mapped in the eastern part. Further, a number of studies have been conducted in the Andaman-Nicobar Islands to image the subduction of Indian oceanic plate in order to understand the genesis of earthquakes in these regions.