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Deccan Traps

Geological Places

The Deccan Traps, located in present-day India, are one of the largest volcanic features on Earth, both in terms of area covered and volume of erupted material. This volcanic province consists of extensive layers of basaltic lava flows that erupted during the Late Cretaceous period, around 66 million years ago.

The origin of the Deccan Traps is closely linked to the breakup of the supercontinent Gondwana and the rifting of the Indian Plate from the rest of Gondwana. As the Indian Plate moved northward, it encountered the Reunion hotspot, a plume of molten material rising from deep within the Earth’s mantle. This hotspot created a massive outpouring of lava that covered an area of over 500,000 square kilometers (193,000 square miles) with layers of basaltic flows.

The eruptions associated with the Deccan Traps occurred in multiple phases over a span of around 30,000 to 40,000 years. The immense volume of lava erupted – estimated to be several million cubic kilometers – had a profound impact on the landscape, climate, and ecosystem of the time. The volcanic gases released during the eruptions, including sulfur dioxide, contributed to significant environmental changes.

The environmental consequences of the Deccan Traps eruptions are believed to have played a role in the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) mass extinction event, which wiped out around 75% of Earth’s species, including the non-avian dinosaurs. The volcanic gases released into the atmosphere likely led to global cooling, acid rain, and changes in the composition of the oceans and atmosphere, affecting ecosystems on a global scale.

The Deccan Traps have left a lasting mark on the geology of the Indian subcontinent. The extensive lava flows created a plateau-like landscape that is still evident today. The Western Ghats and other geological formations in the region are partly a result of the volcanic activity. The Deccan Traps are also an essential site for studying volcanic processes, as the exposed layers of lava provide valuable insights into the Earth’s past geological events.