Friday, 6 June 2014

Possible volcanic eruption in Himachal Pradesh State, India.

A report in the Times of India on 6 June 2014 has documented a possible volcanic eruption in the Kangra District of Himachal Pradesh State, India. The eruption, on a hill near the village of Gadiya, has been ongoing for several days, with flames, gas and hot liquid being produced from hole covering an area about 3 m across. The site was been visited by a team from the Indian Geological Survey on Thursday 5 June 2014, who have now confirmed that the eruption is magmatic in origin. This is the first recorded volcanic eruption witnessed on the Indian Mainland, and indeed the first such eruption ever witnessed in the Himalayas.

The approximate location of the Himachal Pradesh volcanic eruption. Google Maps.

While this is the first recorded volcanic eruption to have been witnessed in the Himalayas, the potential for volcanism there is not a surprise. The Himalayas have been formed (and are still being formed) by the movement of the Indian Plate, which is pushing against the Eurasian Plate, resulting in folding and uplift of rock. The pressures involved in such a continental collision are immense, and quite capable of creating magma (liquid rock) close to the surface. Himachal Pradesh is home to a number of hot springs, which are highly indicative of magma or very hot rock close to the surface.

Hot springs at the Gurudwara Complex in Manikaran, Himachal Pradesh. Aman Gupta/Wikimedia Commons.

Volcanic rock is abundant across much of India, most of it relating to the flood basalt emplacement of the Deccan Traps in the west of the country at the end of the Cretaceous. This was a major episode of volcanism which has been associated with the initial collision of the Indian and Eurasian Plates, and the formation of the Reunion Hotspot, and which is one of two main contenders for the cause of the end-Cretaceous extinction event (the other being the Chicxulub Impact Event in Mexico).

The Himachal Pradesh eruption is not likely to develop into anything as catastrophic as the Deccan Traps, indeed it is highly unlikely that it will develop into a major volcano, though it may present a threat to communities in its immediate vicinity.

See also...

The United States Geological Survey recorded a Magnitude 4.4...

Press sources in India are reporting a mysterious 'volcanic' eruption that took place on Sunday 13 October 2013, close to the village of Tusom in the Ukhrul District of Manipur State in northeast India...

NASA's MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) system, mounted on the Terra (EOS AM) and Aqua (EOS PM) satellites, detected a hotspot developing over the Baren Island Volcano in the Andaman Islands over the period 10-16 October...

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