1.3 Rise of the Himalayas

Did you know?

The Aravalli Range in India is thought to be the oldest surviving geological feature ANYWHERE in the WORLD! These mountains were once very tall, maybe as tall as the Himalayas, but over hundreds of millions of years, they have been eroded down to low hills and ridges. The northernmost point of the Aravallis is the North Ridge near Delhi University. Farther south, near the Gujarat-Rajasthan border, theses short hills turn into mountains again. The Guru Shikhar peak at Mount Abu rises to 1722 metres above sea level and is considered to be a sacred place. The rajput warrior clan claim that their ancestors arose from great sacrificial fire on this mountain! Despite the significance of Arvallis, they are under threat today because of reckless mining and quarrying – in the name of “GROWTH..!”

A large number of dinosaur remains were found in Raiolio village of Balasinor Taluka, Gujarat in 1981. Thousands of Fossilised eggs found there, it appears to have been a preferred hatchery for dinosaurs. The Lizard King of Narmada – Rajasaurus Narmadsensis – A 25-30 feet long and two-third size of the Tyrannosaurus Rex, were also roamed here which was confirmed from their fossilised bones.

India, Antarctica and Madagascar separated from Africa around 158 million years ago and then, 130 million years ago, India and Madagascar separated from Antarctica. Around 90 million years ago, India separated from Madagascar to steadily move towards Asia in the North.

As this happened, the land mass passed over the Reunion ‘hotspot’, causing an outburst of volcanic activity. This hotspot is currently under the island of reunion in the Indian Ocean and the eruptions it caused then, mostly in the western ghats near Mumbai created Deccan Traps.

These eruptions are not conical sorts like volcanos, they are more like layer-by-layer oozing that creates steps – flat-topped outcrops which has geological term Traps. (In the late 17th century Shivaji and his band of Maratha guerrillas used this unique terrain to wear down the armies of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb.) The eruptions and Traps episode did not last very long in timeline of earth’s history. May be 30,000 years which could be the reason behind extinction of the dinosaurs.

As India drifted northwards, collided Eurasian plate 55-60 million years ago. This collision pushed up the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau. And the process is still not over! The Himalayas are rising even now by around 5 mm every year, although erosion reduces the actual increase in height. The region is considered to be seismically unstable, meaning that it is prone to frequent and powerful earthquakes.