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Crustal Evolution of India and Antarctica: The Supercontinent Connection

Crustal Evolution of India and Antarctica: The Supercontinent Connection

Gondwana hosts a multitude of geological secrets, and this volume delves a long way back in deep time to help unravel of some of these hidden geological complexities. Don’t expect to find anything younger than the Precambrian in these pages. Indeed, the title would be enhanced by the inclusion of the word Proterozoic, so readers looking to know more about the Mesozoic disintegration of Gondwana need look no further. If your passion is geochronology and plate reconstructions of the supercontinents Columbia (~1.5 Ga) and Rodinia (~1 Ga), as well as Gondwana’s early history (to ~0.5 Ga), then this is a tome you will want to access.

The book is a compilation of 13 articles distilled from about 200 papers presented at the 2015 symposium on Antarctic Science, held in Goa and hosted by the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR). It has only been two years in gestation, so the papers are up-to-date and topical. The Precambrian history of Earth is characterized by the ‘yo-yo’-like assembly and disintegration of supercontinents, of which both Antarctica and India are important components. Lively debate continues regarding their terrain boundaries and their mutual linkages, and the integration of tectonics, petrology and geochronology is seen as the route to re-assembling the palaeotectonic jig-saw puzzle. Palaeontology isn’t useful for terrain correlation in the depths of Proterozoic time, so high-resolution geochemistry and geochronology feature prominently in the researchers’ tool kit.

The volume contains related papers that address some of the topical questions of where, why, and when the supercontinents assembled and broke up. The first three papers are specific to western Antarctica and address the geochronology of cratons that have affinities with eastern India, Mozambique and South Africa. Most of the remaining chapters detail aspects of the Indian mobile belts (Eastern Ghats and Aravalli-Delhi), as well as the petrology of the gneissic cratons. It would have been useful to include a comprehensive summary paper to start the volume, providing some linking elements and perhaps discussion of the key challenges in terrain reconstruction. The absence of such a paper is perhaps why I enjoyed the final misfit contribution in the volume by Joe Meet et al. on the use of palaeomagnetic data to provide an alternative view of supercontinent assembly.  

This is a nicely produced volume. The compilation works well in covering a billion years in less than 400 pages. It is not a book you will browse for general information. Rather, it will stand as a staple reference for researchers working on Proterozoic terrain reconstruction for years to come.

Reviewed by Stuart Burley

CRUSTAL EVOLUTION OF INDIA AND ANTARCTICA: THE SUPERCONTINENT CONNECTION. Edited by N.C. PANT & S. DASGUTPA.  Geological Society of London Special Publication No 457, 2017. ISBN 978-1-78620-319-9. 359pp. hbk. List price: £ 120.00. Fellow's price: £ 60.00. W: