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Where Time Stands Still: Into the Heart of the Oldest Rocks & Terrain in India

Plunging myself into the virtual world of internet, these are some interesting geological terrains and features in the country that I found.

We know that rocks and stones can point to the age of the earth and its conditions at the time. While the oldest rock was found in Western Australia, the second oldest rock has been found in Odisha, India.

The insightful discovery was made by a group of geologists from Curtin University, Malaysia, the University of Calcutta, India, and researchers from the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences, Beijing.

The rock sample collected eight years ago in the town of Chumpa, revealed a grain of magmatic zircon, a mineral that contains traces of radioactive isotopes, estimated to be 4,240 million years old.

Second oldest rock found in Odisha, India
Second oldest rock found in Champ, Odisha, India. Source: NST.com

What does this mean in layman terms?

For starters, it tells us about the formation of the earth’s crust and the presence of water in the first hundred-odd million years of the planet’s history. Further, it will give us more clues about when the tectonic plates began to shift.

This got me thinking about rocks that have been around for ages. Rocks that were formed so long ago, that humans were just beginning to evolve.

I began to wonder about the geology of India and its development over the years. Plunging myself into the virtual world of internet, these are some interesting geological terrains and features in the country that I found.

The Dharwar Craton

Not all great things have to be visible. And Dharwar Craton in South India is one such hidden feature of the Indian Subcontinent.

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The Dharwar Craton or the Karnataka Craton is a piece of the earth’s crust that dates back to the late Archean period, which dates back to 2.5 billion to 4 billion years ago.

Pramoda Raj SlideShare dharwar-super-group-6-638
Source: Pramoda Raj-SlideShare

To put that in perspective, this was the period when the core of the earth was just beginning to cool down for the crust to start hardening. The Dharwar Craton is a terrain formed during that period and has been a stable land for the last billions or so years.

In fact, even the word Dharwar means a place of rest in long travel.

The plain stretches roughly from Chennai, Goa, Hyderabad, and Mangaluru.

The Aravalli Range

If like me, you thought the Mount Everest was the oldest mountain range, you’d be wrong. The scrimpled up, bedsheet-like mountains are one of the oldest fold mountains in Asia.

Mountains are like people. They are first conceived when two continents meet. And from their thrust, they are born, only to keep growing. At one age, they stop growing and begin to grow old.

The Himalayas are young fold mountains, so they are currently growing.

But the Aravalli Range is a fold mountain that is so old that it has started to decrease in height as the two continental plates beneath it are drifting apart.

Aravalli Hills, Udaipur, Rajasthan IndiaAravalli Hills, Udaipur, Rajasthan India
Agriculture fields in Aravalli Hills, Udaipur, Rajasthan India. Source: Wikipedia

The Aravalli Range has seen the various stages of human history, from humans using flint stones as weapons to tools used during the agriculture period. It also saw the 4,000-year-old Aahar civilisation and 2,800-year-old Gneshwar civilisation, the Aryan and the Vedic-era civilisations.

The Sivalik Hills

The continents that drifted together to make what is the Himalayan range today also have some interesting revelations.

The Sivalik is a mountain range of the outer Himalayas. Unlike the other two we saw, the terrain is not very consolidated. This allows the rives to cut through with ease while supporting the rivers that flow off the Himalayas.

The Hills revealed that all kinds of animals had lived there. This water body could also explain why it is the richest fossil sites for large animals anywhere in Asia, as water bodies allowed animals to thrive in the region.

Sivalik Valley -Sivatherium
Left: River Ganga meandering through the Shivalik ranges, Rishikesh. Right: Fossil of Sivatherium. source: Wikipedia

There were the early ancestors of the sloth bear, an ancient giraffe – Sivatherium, a giant tortoise named – Megalochelys atlas, nicknamed as the Sivalik’s giant tortoise.

If there is anything that connects us with our ancestors, it is the rock on which we live. If anything, our love for this tiny wet rock should enable us to look after it as well. Here’s for the rocks that have put up with us for more than millions of years.

(Edited by Shruti Singhal)


Hey, you may also like: 20 Natural Wonders of India We Bet You Missed In Your Geography Books!


Featured image for representational purposes only. Credits: Pixabay

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