The Volcanic Geoheritage of the Elephanta Caves, Deccan Traps, Western India

The Volcanic Geoheritage of the Elephanta Caves, Deccan Traps, Western India Geoheritage, geoconservation, and geotourism studies are of increasing interest worldwide because of their scientific, societal, cultural, and aesthetic value. Volcanic areas (whether active, dormant, or extinct) are exciting targets for such studies. Mid-sixth century rock-cut caves in Deccan basalt on the island of Elephanta, in the Mumbai harbour, are the finest in western India. The Elephanta Caves contain exquisite religious sculptures related to the Hindu god Shiva. They are a protected monument of the Archaeological Survey of India and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but no geological-volcanological account of them exists. Here, we illustrate typical and well-exposed hummocky pahoehoe lava flows with three-tiered flow lobes and toes, upper crustal vesicular banding and pipe vesicles along lobe bases, and tumuli with inflation clefts and squeeze-ups, from the Elephanta Caves monument. The field observations and simple calculations indicate formation by endogenous growth (inflation), as for pahoehoe flows in Hawaii and Iceland. Interestingly, despite differences in flow volumes of orders of magnitude between Hawaiian, Icelandic, and Deccan flows, their morphologies, internal structures, and even the scale of these structures are identical. We interpret this as indicating similarly low effusion-rate but much longer-lasting eruptions for the Deccan compared to the other two. We show that the Elephanta Caves, a world-renowned historical, artistic, and religious monument, are also a monument for geology and volcanology, and therefore, the need for their conservation is even greater. Geoheritage Springer Journals

The Volcanic Geoheritage of the Elephanta Caves, Deccan Traps, Western India

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Springer Berlin Heidelberg
Copyright © 2016 by The European Association for Conservation of the Geological Heritage
Earth Sciences; Historical Geology; Physical Geography; Biogeosciences; Paleontology; Landscape/Regional and Urban Planning; Mineralogy
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