Skip to main content Accessibility help

Flexural subsidence analysis of the Laxmi Basin, Arabian Sea and its tectonic implications

  • D. K. Pandey (a1), Anju Pandey (a1), Peter D. Clift (a2), Nisha Nair (a1), Prerna Ramesh (a1), Denise K. Kulhanek (a3) and Rajeev Yadav (a1)...


Two-dimensional flexural backstripping and thermal modelling (assuming laterally variable stretching) is applied along regional depth-converted interpreted seismic profiles from the Laxmi Basin in the Arabian Sea. Results from reverse post-rift flexural modelling reveal considerable basin-wide subsidence in response to the crustal geodynamics during and after the last extensional phase. Unloading of the stratigraphy allows us to estimate the degree of laterally varying extension, assuming thermal subsidence and pure shear. High degrees of extension in the basin centre predict considerable water depths at the time of rift cessation, consistent with deep drilling data. We suggest that regional extension prior to Paleocene time could have fuelled variable subsidence in the Laxmi Basin but that extension is less than seen in typical oceanic lithosphere. Volcanic loading by the seamounts shortly after extension has flexed the basin and implies an effective elastic thickness (Te) at that time of ∼6 km. Reconstruction of the seamount top near sea level at the end of emplacement indicates no major transient uplift potentially linked to the Deccan mantle plume activity. Backstripping of post-rift sediments from interpreted seismic profiles supports the presence of a hyper-thinned crust underneath the Laxmi Basin, with β factors reaching >7 in the basin centre and ∼3 across much of the basin width. Computations of decompacted sediment accumulation rates in light of new results from IODP Expedition 355 show that basin sedimentation peaked during early–middle Miocene time, possibly coeval with uplift and erosion of the Himalayan–Tibetan Plateau driven by strong summer monsoon rains.


Corresponding author


Hide All
Agrawal, A and Rogers, JJW (1992) Structure and tectonic evolution of the western continental margin of India: evidence from subsidence studies for a 25–20 Ma plate reorganization in the Indian Ocean. In Basement Tectonics 8: Characterization and Comparison of Ancient and Mesozoic Continental Margins – Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Basement Tectonics, pp. 583–90. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
Allen, PA and Allen, JR (2006) Basin Analysis: Principles and Applications. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 549 pp.
Basu, DN, Banerjee, A and Tamhane, DM (1982) Facies distribution and petroleum geology of the Bombay offshore basin, India. Journal of Petroleum Geology 5, 5175.
Baxter, K, Cooper, GT, Hill, KC and O’Brien, GW (1999) Late Jurassic subsidence and passive margin evolution in the Vulcan Sub-basin, northwest Australia: constraints from basin modelling. Basin Research 11, 97111.
Bhattacharya, GC, Chaubey, AK, Murty, GPS, Srinivas, K, Sarma, KVLNS, Subrahmanyam, V and Krishna, KS (1994) Evidence for seafloor spreading in the Laxmi basin, northeastern Arabian Sea. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 125, 211–20.
Bhattacharya, GC and Yatheesh, V (2015) Plate-tectonic evolution of the deep ocean basins adjoining the western continental margin of India—A proposed model for the early opening scenario. In Petroleum Geosciences (ed. Mukherjee, S). Cham: Indian Contexts, Springer Geology.
Biswas, SK (1982) Rift basins in western margin of India and their hydrocarbon prospects with special reference to Kutch Basin. American Association of Petroleum Geologists Bulletin 66, 1497–513.
Biswas, SK (1989) Hydrocarbon exploration in western offshore basins of India. Geological Survey of India Special Publication 24, 185–94.
Biswas, SK (1999) A review on the evolution of the rift basins in India during Gondwana with special reference to Western Indian basins and their hydrocarbon prospects. Proceedings of Indian National Science Academy 65, 261–83.
Calvès, G, Clift, PD and Inam, A (2008) Anomalous subsidence on the rifted volcanic margin of Pakistan: no influence from Deccan plume. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 272, 231–9.
Calvès, G, Huuse, M, Clift, PD and Brusset, S (2015) Giant fossil mass wasting off the coast of West India: the Nataraja submarine slide. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 432, 265–72.
Calvès, G, Schwab, AM, Huuse, M, Clift, PD, Gaina, C, Jolley, D, Tabrez, AR and Inam, A (2011) Seismic volcanostratigraphy of the western Indian rifted margin: the pre-Deccan igneous province. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth 116, doi: 10.1029/2010JB000862.
Chand, S and Subrahmanyam, C (2003) Rifting between India and Madagascar – mechanism and isostasy. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 210, 317–32.
Chaubey, AK, Gopala Rao, D, Srinivas, K, Ramprasad, T, Ramana, MV and Subrahmanyam, V (2002) Analyses of multichannel seismic reflection, gravity and magnetic data along a regional profile across the central-western continental margin of India. Marine Geology 182, 303–23.
Clift, PD (2005) Sedimentary evidence for moderate mantle temperature anomalies associated with hotspot volcanism. In Plates, Plumes and Paradigms (eds Foulger, GR, Natland, JH, Presnall, DC and Anderson, DL), pp. 279–87. Geological Society of America, Special Paper no. 388.
Clift, PD (2006). Controls on the erosion of Cenozoic Asia and the flux of clastic sediment to the ocean. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 241, 571–80.
Clift, PD and Gaedicke, C (2002) Accelerated mass flux to the Arabian Sea during the Middle–Late Miocene. Geology 30, 207–10.
Clift, PD, Gaedicke, C, Edwards, R, Lee, JI, Hildebrand, P, Amjad, S, White, RS and Schülter, HU (2002) The stratigraphic evolution of the Indus Fan and the history of sedimentation in the Arabian Sea. Marine Geophysical Research 23, 223–45.
Clift, PD, Turner, J and ODP Leg 152 Scientific Party (1995) Dynamic support of the Icelandic Plume and its effect on the subsidence of the northern Atlantic margins. Journal of the Geological Society, London 52, 935–41.
Cloetingh, S, Gradstein, F, Kooi, H, Grant, AC and Kaminski, M (1990) Plate reorganization: a cause of rapid late Neogene subsidence and sedimentation around the North Atlantic? Journal of the Geological Society, London 147, 495506.
Collier, JS, Sansom, V, Ishizuka, O, Taylor, RN, Minshull, TA and Whitmarsh, RB (2008) Age of Seychelles–India breakup. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 272, 264–77.
Corfield, RI, Carmichael, S, Bennett, J, Akhter, S, Fatimi, M and Craig, T (2010) Variability in the crustal structure of the West Indian Continental Margin in the Northern Arabian Sea. Petroleum Geoscience 16, 257–65.
Courtillot, V, Besse, J, Vandamme, D, Montigny, R, Jaeger, JJ and Cappetta, H (1986) Deccan flood basalts at the Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary? Earth and Planetary Science Letters 80, 361–74.
Eagles, G and Wibisono, AD (2013) Ridge push, mantle plumes, and the speed of the Indian plate. Geophysical Journal International 194, 670–7.
Farnetani, CG and Richards, MA (1995) Numerical investigations of the mantle plume initiation model for flood basalt events. Journal of Geophysical Research 99, 13813–33.
Gaedicke, C, Schlueter, HU, Roeser, HA, Prexl, A, Schreckenberger, B, Meyer, H, Reichert, C, Clift, P and Amjad, S (2002) Origin of the northern Indus Fan and Murray Ridge, northern Arabian Sea; interpretation from seismic and magnetic imaging. Tectonophysics 355, 127–43.
Gaina, C, van Hinsbergen, DJJ and Spakman, W (2015) Tectonic interactions between India and Arabia since the Jurassic reconstructed from marine geophysics, ophiolite geology, and seismic tomography. Tectonics 34, 875906.
Gombos, AM, Powell, WG and Norton, IO (1995) The tectonic evolution of western India and its impact on hydrocarbon occurrences—an overview. Sedimentary Geology 96, 119–29.
Gradstein, FM, Ogg, JG, Schmitz, M and Ogg, G (2012) The Geologic Time Scale 2012. Amsterdam: Elsevier Publications, 1176 pp.
Gupta, AK, Singh, RK, Joseph, S and Thomas, E (2004) Indian Ocean high-productivity event (10-8 Ma): linked to global cooling or to the initiation of the Indian monsoons? Geology 32, 753–6.
Haq, BU, Hardenbol, J and Vail, PR (1987) Chronology of fluctuating sea levels since the Triassic. Science 235, 1156–67.
Hopper, J and Buck, WR (1996) Effects of lower crustal flow on continental extension and passive margin formation. Journal of Geophysical Research 101, 20175–94.
Jarvis, GT and McKenzie, DP (1980) Sedimentary basin formation with finite extension rates. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 48, 4252.
Karner, GD and Watts, AB (1982) On isostasy at Atlantic-type continental margins. Journal of Geophysical Research 87, 2923–48.
Kolla, V and Coumes, F (1987) Morphology, internal structure, seismic stratigraphy, and sedimentation of Indus Fan. American Association of Petroleum Geologists Bulletin 71, 650–77.
Krishna, KS, Rao, DG and Sar, D (2006) Nature of the crust in the Laxmi Basin (14°–20°N), western continental margin of India. Tectonics 25, doi: 10.1029/2004TC001747.
Kusznir, NJ, Hunsdale, R and Roberts, AM (2004) Timing of depth-dependent lithosphere stretching on the S. Lofoten rifted margin offshore mid-Norway: pre- breakup or post-breakup? Basin Research 16, 279–96.
Kusznir, NJ, Roberts, AM and Morley, C (1995) Forward and reverse modelling of rift basin formation. In Hydrocarbon Habitat in Rift Basins (ed. Lambiase, J), pp. 3356. Geological Society of London, Special Publication no. 80.
Mathur, RB and Nair, KR (1993). Exploration of Bombay offshore basin. In Proceedings of the 2nd Seminar on Petroleum Basins of India, Dehradun, India, Vol. 2, pp. 365–96. KDMIPE and ONGC, Indian Petroleum Publishers.
McKenzie, DP (1978) Some remarks on the development of sedimentary basins. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 40, 2532.
McKenzie, DP and Bickle, M (1988) The volume and composition of melt generated by extension of the lithosphere. Journal of Petrology 29, 625–79.
McKenzie, DP and Sclater, JG (1971) The evolution of the Indian Ocean since the late Cretaceous. Geophysical Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society 24, 437528.
Miles, PR, Munschy, M and Segoufin, J (1998) Structure and early evolution of the Arabian Sea and East Somali Basin. Geophysical Journal International 134, 876–88.
Minshull, TA, Lane, CI, Collier, JS and Whitmarsh, RB (2008) The relationship between rifting and magmatism in the northeastern Arabian Sea. Nature Geoscience 1, 463–67.
Mishra, A, Chaubey, AK, Sreejith, KM and Kumar, S (2018) Crustal underplating and effective elastic plate thickness of the Laxmi Ridge, northern Arabian Sea. Tectonophysics 744, 8292.
Misra, AA, Sinha, N and Mukherjee, S (2015) Repeat ridge jumps and microcontinent separation: insights from NE Arabian Sea. Marine and Petroleum Geology 59, 406–28.
Mitra, P, Zutshi, PL, Chourasia, RA, Chugh, ML, Ananthanarayanan, S and Shukla, B (1983) Exploration in western offshore basins. Petroleum Asia Journal VI, 1524.
Mohan, M (1985) Geohistory analysis of Bombay high region. Marine and Petroleum Geology 2, 350–60.
Mohanty, SN, Jain, M and Jamkhindikar, A (2013) New insight to hydrocarbon potential of shelf margin basin west of DCS area in Mumbai Offshore Basin, India. In 10th Biennial Conference on Hydrocarbon Exploration and Exposition, Kochi, India, p. 243.
Naini, BR and Talwani, M (1982) Structural framework and the evolutionary history of the continental margin of Western India. In Studies in Continental Margin Geology (eds Watkins, JS and Drake, CL), pp. 167–91. Tulsa: American Association of Petroleum Geologists vol. 34.
Nair, KM, Singh, NK, Ram, J, Gavarshetty, CP and Muraleekrishanan, B (1992) Stratigraphy and sedimentation of Bombay offshore basin. Journal of Geological Society of India 40, 415–42.
Pandey, DK, Clift, PD, Kulhanek, DK and the Expedition 355 Scientists (2016) Arabian Sea Monsoon. Proceedings of the International Ocean Discovery Program, vol. 355. College Station, Texas: International Ocean Discovery Program.
Pandey, DK, Nair, N, Pandey, A and Sriram, G (2017) Basement tectonics and flexural subsidence along western continental margin of India. Geoscience Frontiers 8, 1009–24.
Pandey, A and Pandey, DK (2015) Mechanism of crustal extension in the Laxmi Basin, Arabian Sea. Geodesy and Geodynamics 6, 409–22.
Planke, S and Eldholm, O (1994) Seismic response and construction of seaward dipping wedges of flood basalts: Voring volcanic margin. Journal of Geophysical Research 99, 9263–78.
Raju, DSN, Bhandari, A and Ramesh, P (1999) Relative sea-level fluctuations during Cretaceous and Cenozoic in India. ONGC Bulletin 36, 185202.
Rao, PR and Srivastava, DC (1984) Regional seismic facies analysis of western offshore India. Bulletin of the Oil and Natural Gas Commission 21, 8396.
Roberts, AM, Kusznir, NJ, Yielding, G and Styles, P (1998) 2D flexural backstripping of extensional basins; the need for a sideways glance. Petroleum Geoscience 4, 327–38.
Royden, L and Keen, CE (1980) Rifting process and thermal evolution of the continental margin of eastern Canada determined from subsidence curves. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 51, 343–61.
Royer, J-Y, Chaubey, AK, Dyment, J, Bhattacharya, GC, Srinivas, VY and Ramprasad, T (2002) Paleogene plate tectonic evolution of the Arabian and Eastern Somali basins. In The Tectonic and Climatic Evolution of the Arabian Sea Region (eds Clift, P, Kroon, D, Gaedicke, C and Craig, J), pp. 723. Geological Society of London, Special Publication no. 195.
Sclater, JG and Christie, PAF (1980) Continental stretching: an explanation of the post-Mid-Cretaceous subsidence of the central North Sea Basin. Journal of Geophysical Research 85, 3711–39.
Sleep, NH (1990) Hotspots and mantle plumes: some phenomenology. Journal of Geophysical Research 95, 6715–36.
Storey, M, Mahoney, JJ, Saunders, AD, Duncan, RA, Kelley, SP and Coffin, MF (1995) Timing of hotspot-related volcanism and the breakup of Madagascar and India. Science 267, 852–5.
Stein, CA and Stein, S (1992) A model for the global variation in oceanic depth and heatflow with lithospheric age. Nature 359, 123–9.
Venkatesan, TR, Pande, K and Gopalan, K (1993) Did Deccan volcanism pre-date the Cretaceous transition. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 119, 181–90.
Watts, AB (2001) Isostasy and Flexure of the Lithosphere. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 472 pp.
White, RS (1999) The lithosphere under stress. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences 357, 901–15.
White, RS and McKenzie, D (1989) Magmatism at rift zones: the generation of volcanic continental margins and flood basalts. Journal of Geophysical Research 94, 7685–729.
Whiting, BM, Karner, GD and Driscoll, NW (1994) Flexural and stratigraphic development of the west Indian continental margin. Journal of Geophysical Research 99, 13791–811.
Whitmarsh, RB (1974) Some aspects of plate tectonics in the Arabian Sea. In Initial Reports of the Deep Sea Drilling Project vol. 23 (eds Whitmarsh, RB, Weser, OE, Ali, S, Boudreaux, JE, Fleisher, RL, Jipa, D, Kidd, RB, Mallik, TK, Matter, A, Nigrini, C, Siddiquie, HN and Stoffers, P), pp. 527–35.
Zhang, P, Molnar, P and Downs, WR (2001) Increased sedimentation rates and grain sizes 2-4 Myr ago due to the influence of climate change on erosion rates. Nature 410, 891–97.
Zutshi, PL, Sood, A, Mohapatra, P, Ramani, KKV, Dwivedi, AK and Srivastava, HC (1993) Lithostratigraphy of Indian petroliferous basins. Documents-V, Bombay Offshore Basin, 383, 117 pp. Dehradun: KDMIPE, ONGC.



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed