Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Geological Monuments Of India

Well well, this is something I noticed only recently... you will see on the Geological Survey of India website (when it finally uploads) an interactive map showing sites of geological importance.  The GSI has declared these sites National Geological Monuments and has taken on the responsibility of the protection of these sites as well as their promotion for tourism purposes.

Here is the site map of the geological monuments:

Source: Geological Survey of India

And the list:

Fossil Parks:
1) Marine Gondwana Fossil Park (Gondwana basins Eastern India)_2) Fossil Wood Parks ( Tamil Nadu and Jaisalmer Rajasthan) 3) Siwalik Fossil Park  (Himachal Himalaya Foothills) 4) Stromatolite Parks (Proterozoic of Rajasthan)

Rock Monuments:
1) Peninsular Gneiss (near Bengaluru south India) 2) Columnar Basalt (Coconut Island Deccan Basalts near Udupi coastal Karnatak) 3) Pillow Lava (Chitradurga, Karnataka) 4) Pyroclastic Rocks (Kolar, Karnataka) 5) Nepheline Syenite ( (Ajmer district, Rajasthan) 6) Barr Conglomerate (tectonically stretched pebbles, Pali district, Rajasthan) 7) Welded Tuff (Jodhpur district, Rajasthan) 8) Charnockite (near Chennai, Tamil Nadu)

Geological Marvels:
1) Lonar Lake (Maharashtra) 2) Eddy Current Markings ( Panchmahal district, Gujarath) 3) Natural Arch (Chittor district, Andhra Pradesh) 4) Sendra Granite (Pali district, Rajasthan)

Monuments of Stratigraphic Importance:
1) Eparchaean Unconformity, Tirumala Hills Andhra Pradesh representing a time gap of about 800 million years between the Archean and the overlying Proterozoic
2) Jodhpur Group – Malani Igneous Suite Contact, Jodhpur District, Rajasthan- Contact between volcanic rocks and sandstone
3) Great Boundary Fault at Satur, Bundi district, Rajasthan- Faulted contact between the Aravalli terrain and the Vindhyan basin sediments

Monuments of Economic Significance:
1) Laterite in Angadipuram, Malappuram district, Kerala
2)  Bedded Barytes of Mangampeta, Cuddapah district, Andhra Pradesh
3) Gossan, Rajpura – Dariba, Rajsamand District, Rajasthan- Gossan is a weathered zone formed by oxidation of sulphide  ores.

I would add a few more to these-

1) Western Ghat Escarpment, Maharashtra- how can you ignore the spectacular 1000 feet plus basalt escarpments overlooking the coastal plains leading up to the Arabian Sea? choose any site along the sinuous edge of the Deccan plateau. In the USGS Digital Elevation Model to the left the sharp topographic divide between the darker green coastal plain and the pastel plateau shows up clearly.

2) Chambal River Badlands- Sinister looking and rich in bandit lore, these Quaternary landforms along the Chambal  river in Madhya Pradesh offers lessons in Quaternary climate change and river landform evolution.

3) Bhedaghat Marble Cliffs - Near, Jabalpur Madhya Pradesh. I am surprised the GSI missed including this, as it is already well known. These Proterzoic marble cliffs with the Narmada river flowing between is a great spot to visit.

4) Cretaceous fossil beds around Ariyalur , Tamil Nadu- scores of invertebrate palaeontologists have gotten their PhD training here. Ammonoids, echinoids, bivalves, plant leaf imprints, coral reefs... marine life that inhabited the Cretaceous seas. Some sites must be preserved.

5) Main Frontal Thrust- Chosen site along  the Siwalik Front Range- what better way to explain plate tectonics, the geodynamics of the Himalayas and earthquakes than by showing the active fault zone along which the convergence between India and Asia is being accommodated?

I am sure there are many more which geologists working in different  regions of India feel are worthy of protection.  A palaeontologist working with the Agarkar Research Institute in Pune told me that they are petitioning the GSI for protection of many more fossil sites in Gujarat. I hope the GSI extends their list to include recommendations from outside experts.

I also hope they take professional help in advertizing these monuments. Some of the choices seem a bit esoteric to me. I mean... I really can't imagine people flocking to see a "nepheline syenite intruding an antiform". Unless there is a spectacular exposure of folded strata. In which case it should be advertized as such. .. And "Penisular Gneiss"...why not point to the wonderful delicately balanced (that look as if they might topple  over any minute) granite boulders that dot the landscape around many south Indian cities like Bengaluru and Hyderabad? A few could be made into rock parks and protected from the ever consuming urbanization.

Its time also for the GSI to  rachet up its  science outreach programs. Maybe they can invite National  Geographic or Discovery Channel to make  a program on  geological monuments involving experts from Universities and the GSI. And the many regional GSI offices could develop more proactive, well advertized community outreach programs with more use of social media, geology day interaction with scientists and field trips. Educating the public has many dividends. After all, why should opinions on what should be protected be a top down phenomenon? An interested well informed science loving community could put pressure too for the protection of the many geological wonders of India.


  1. Interesting ... and great ideas. Are you in a position to petition for some of them? Our state (Wyoming) does little to explain and promote interesting geological sites, sadly. Other states (e.g. Utah, New Mexico, Nevada) have excellent geo-tripping resources online. I use them a lot.

  2. thanks Hollis..I can petition as a citizen, but since I work as an independent consultant, I don't have institutional backing, although I can always encourage my friends from various institutes to do so.. surprised to hear about Wyoming which has plenty of interesting geology!

  3. Excellent article. Thanks. How come there are no interesting ones from the Northeast of India? Large numbers of them seem to occur in Rajasthan, Karnataka etc...

  4. good point Mohan- yes, biased towards Rajasthan and the south Indian PreCambrian; there would be interesting features in northeast too. the Meghalaya caves come to mind, a feature worth protecting. - see this:


  5. Thanks Suvrat! Never heard about Meghalaya caves before..When I visited the famous Carlsbad caverns in NM, I was wondering why no such thing in India...need to explore more about these. Any particular reason why Meghalaya has many caves? Are there any 'Cenotes' in India? Thanks Mohan

  6. Mohan-

    limestone (Cenozoic) + high rainfall = dissolution and cave formation in Meghalya. There are caves in other parts of India too.. i remember visiting one near Vishakapatam, again in limestone country (Proterozoic). don't know if there are Cenotes in India, at least haven;t come across any description of them.

  7. Rajasthan has been attracting tourists from all over the world. With its rich, unique culture and history, it is over run with tourists the whole year round, especially during winter months. They generally love to visit forts, palaces, lakes with their stunning beauty, and also enjoy food, colorful clothes and Rajasthan’s cultural aspects. Unfortunately, they hardly know about many of the geological monuments with their fossil fauna that have significant geological, economic and palaeontological value. A little initiative to highlight this storehouse of interesting geological features, can put the state on the global geo-heritage map.
    Out of the 33 geological monuments established by the GSI in India, Rajasthan has 10, of which 3 are related with fossil wealth. Only one of them viz., Akal Fossil Wood Park in Rajasthan is attracting domestic as well as international tourists visiting. Even this is not the result of any special attempt on the part of tourist agencies to impart extraordinary knowledge to the visitor. Only a superficial information of the spot is made available to them, which is not enough to develop their greater interest as a geotourist.
    Another fossil Park established by the GSI is the Stromatolite Park located at Jhamarkotra, Udaipur district . This is in absolute neglect. It is not attracting even the domestic tourist. Among the rare visitors are some students who happen to be on study tour to the nearby mining area.Another fossil Park established by the GSI is the Stromatolite Park located at Jhamarkotra, Udaipur district . This is in absolute neglect. It is not attracting even the domestic tourist. Among the rare visitors are some students who happen to be on study tour to the nearby mining area.
    There are hardly tourist guides in Rajasthan who have knowledge beyond a few words to tell about the development of some of the beautiful landscapes and their heritage value. In order to overcome this problem not only the geological community in India but also the tourist departments of State and Central Government Departments have to make a beginning. It is a herculean task, but the beginning has to be made at the right earnest as India is a country with diverse physical attributes, rich cultural heritage and eventful ancient history.

  8. Mr. Mathur- thanks for sharing your experience about the state of Rajasthan geo-tourism. I agree... there is neglect of our natural landscapes. There is just not enough effort by the government to make these a prominent tourist destination.

  9. Dear Suvrat - I had achieved the protection of Karai Formations as geo heritage site through long litigation in Chennai High court . TN govt had notified the same in gazatte. It is the gift to gelogists and paleontogists of world.

  10. Dear Riffin- thank you for that information and congratulations on your work. I visited the Cretaceous fossil bearing strata near Ariyalur in my student days and am very happy to hear that part of the section will have protected status.

  11. Hi suvrat
    This is suranjay, student of film and television institute of India,Pune. I'm am very much interested in geology and paleontology,although know very little. For documentary project I am looking for some help,it will be great if you can help me out or suggestions someone.
    In particular some areas which interested me most are the study of layers of solid rock, which almost preserve the memory of the past,and from these traces geologist or Paleontologist are finally trying to understand the evolution,they all enriching our understanding about us and the world around.as well as in the astronomy. I want to relate it with human mind, things we memorise, how and what? Our attempts to preserve our experiences.. at the same time I want to examine the dilemma about the cellulose 'film' material also, it's materiality beside the volatility of the digital storage.
    Looking for your reply..