Well well, this is something I noticed only recently... you will see on the Geological Survey of India website (when it finally uploads) an interactive map
showing sites of geological importance. The GSI has declared these sites National Geological Monuments and has taken on the responsibility of the protection of these sites as well as their promotion for tourism purposes.
Here is the site map of the geological monuments:
Source: Geological Survey of India
And the list:Fossil Parks:
1) Marine Gondwana Fossil Park (Gondwana basins Eastern India)_2) Fossil Wood Parks ( Tamil Nadu and Jaisalmer Rajasthan) 3) Siwalik Fossil Park (Himachal Himalaya Foothills) 4) Stromatolite Parks (Proterozoic of Rajasthan)Rock Monuments:
1) Peninsular Gneiss (near Bengaluru south India) 2) Columnar Basalt (Coconut Island Deccan Basalts near Udupi coastal Karnatak) 3) Pillow Lava (Chitradurga, Karnataka) 4) Pyroclastic Rocks (Kolar, Karnataka) 5) Nepheline Syenite ( (Ajmer district, Rajasthan) 6) Barr Conglomerate (tectonically stretched pebbles, Pali district, Rajasthan) 7) Welded Tuff (Jodhpur district, Rajasthan) 8) Charnockite (near Chennai, Tamil Nadu)Geological Marvels:
1) Lonar Lake (Maharashtra) 2) Eddy Current Markings ( Panchmahal district, Gujarath) 3) Natural Arch (Chittor district, Andhra Pradesh) 4) Sendra Granite (Pali district, Rajasthan)Monuments of Stratigraphic Importance:
1) Eparchaean Unconformity, Tirumala Hills Andhra Pradesh representing a time gap of about 800 million years between the Archean and the overlying Proterozoic
2) Jodhpur Group – Malani Igneous Suite Contact, Jodhpur District, Rajasthan- Contact between volcanic rocks and sandstone
3) Great Boundary Fault at Satur, Bundi district, Rajasthan- Faulted contact between the Aravalli terrain and the Vindhyan basin sedimentsMonuments of Economic Significance:
1) Laterite in Angadipuram, Malappuram district, Kerala
2) Bedded Barytes of Mangampeta, Cuddapah district, Andhra Pradesh
3) Gossan, Rajpura – Dariba, Rajsamand District, Rajasthan- Gossan is a weathered zone formed by oxidation of sulphide ores.
I would add a few more to these-
1) Western Ghat Escarpment, Maharashtra- how can you ignore the spectacular 1000 feet plus basalt escarpments overlooking the coastal plains leading up to the Arabian Sea? choose any site along the sinuous edge of the Deccan plateau. In the USGS Digital Elevation Model
to the left the sharp topographic divide between the darker green coastal plain and the pastel plateau shows up clearly.
2) Chambal River Badlands- Sinister looking and rich in bandit lore, these Quaternary landforms along the Chambal river in Madhya Pradesh offers lessons in Quaternary climate change and river landform evolution.
3) Bhedaghat Marble Cliffs - Near, Jabalpur Madhya Pradesh. I am surprised the GSI missed including this, as it is already well known. These Proterzoic marble cliffs with the Narmada river flowing between is a great spot to visit.
4) Cretaceous fossil beds around Ariyalur , Tamil Nadu- scores of invertebrate palaeontologists have gotten their PhD training here. Ammonoids, echinoids, bivalves, plant leaf imprints, coral reefs... marine life that inhabited the Cretaceous seas. Some sites must be preserved.
5) Main Frontal Thrust- Chosen site along the Siwalik Front Range- what better way to explain plate tectonics, the geodynamics of the Himalayas and earthquakes than by showing the active fault zone along which the convergence between India and Asia is being accommodated?
I am sure there are many more which geologists working in different regions of India feel are worthy of protection. A palaeontologist working with the Agarkar Research Institute in Pune told me that they are petitioning the GSI for protection of many more fossil sites in Gujarat. I hope the GSI extends their list to include recommendations from outside experts.
I also hope they take professional help in advertizing these monuments. Some of the choices seem a bit esoteric to me. I mean... I really can't imagine people flocking to see a "nepheline syenite intruding an antiform". Unless there is a spectacular exposure of folded strata. In which case it should be advertized as such. .. And "Penisular Gneiss"...why not point to the wonderful delicately balanced (that look as if they might topple over any minute) granite boulders that dot the landscape around many south Indian cities like Bengaluru and Hyderabad? A few could be made into rock parks and protected from the ever consuming urbanization.
Its time also for the GSI to rachet up its science outreach programs. Maybe they can invite National Geographic or Discovery Channel to make a program on geological monuments involving experts from Universities and the GSI. And the many regional GSI offices could develop more proactive, well advertized community outreach programs with more use of social media, geology day interaction with scientists and field trips. Educating the public has many dividends. After all, why should opinions on what should be protected be a top down phenomenon? An interested well informed science loving community could put pressure too for the protection of the many geological wonders of India.