Tracking India Within Precambrian Supercontinent Cycles

  • Sarbani Patranabis-Deb
  • Dilip Saha
  • M. Santosh
Part of the Springer Geology book series (SPRINGERGEOL)


The term supercontinent generally implies grouping of formerly dispersed continents and/or their fragments in a close packing accounting for about 75% of earth’s landmass in a given interval of geologic time. The assembly and disruption of supercontinents rely on plate tectonic processes, and therefore, much speculation is involved particularly considering the debates surrounding the applicability of differential plate motion, the key to plate tectonics during the early Precambrian. The presence of Precambrian orogenic belts in all major continents is often considered as the marker of ancient collisional or accretionary sutures, which provide us clues to the history of periodic assembly of ancient supercontinents. Testing of any model assembly/breakup depends on precise age data and paleomagnetic pole reconstruction. The record of dispersal of the continents and release of enormous stress lie in extensional geological features, such as rift valleys, regionally extensive flood basalts, granite-rhyolite terrane, anorthosite complexes, mafic dyke swarms, and remnants of ancient mid-oceanic ridges.

Indian shield with extensive Precambrian rock records is known to bear signatures of the past supercontinents in a fragmentary manner. Vast tracts of Precambrian rocks exposed in peninsular India and in the Lesser Himalaya and the Shillong plateau further north and east provide valuable clues to global tectonic reconstructions and the geodynamics of the respective periods. The Indian shield is a mosaic of Archean cratonic nuclei surrounded by Proterozoic orogenic belts, which preserve the records of geologic events since the Paleoarchean/Eoarchean. Here we discuss the sojourn of the Indian plate from the Archean through Proterozoic, in light of available models for supercontinent assembly and breakup in the Precambrian. We also discuss the issues in constraining the configuration, which is mainly due to scanty exposures, lack of reliable paleomagnetic poles from different cratons, and their time of formation or amalgamation. In this chapter, we briefly review Precambrian geology of India to track her participation in the making of the supercontinents through time.


Precambrian Supercontinent cycle Orogenic belt Assembly and breakup Indian shield 



The present work emanates from the ongoing research program of the Indian Statistical Institute on Proterozoic Geology. Sincere thanks to Prof. S. K. Tandon and Prof. Neal S. Gupta for inviting us to write the paper for this special volume. We are grateful for the constructive review by Prof. M. Jayananda, which helped us improve this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sarbani Patranabis-Deb
    • 1
  • Dilip Saha
    • 1
  • M. Santosh
    • 2
  1. 1.Geological Studies UnitIndian Statistical InstituteKolkataIndia
  2. 2.China University of Geosciences BeijingBeijingChina

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