S. Farooq  
Department of Geology
Aligarh Muslim University


Basemetal Resource Information System for Pithoragarh District, (Kumaon) Himalaya A Remote Sensing & GIS Approach

Structure of the Eastern Kumaon Himalaya:

The Pithoragarh district lies in the Lesser Kumaon Himalaya, which is demarcated in the east and west by the Kali and Sutlej Rivers respectively.  The northern and southern boundaries are defined by two tectonic planes the Main Boundary Fault in the south and the Main Central Thrust in the north.  Much pioneering work to establish the geology and tectonic framework of this sector was carried out by Griesbach, 1891; Hayden, 1904; Auden, 1934; Heim and Gansser, 1939; Wadia, 1932; and West, 1939.

The geological setup of any sector in the Himalayan orogen is to be seen in the framework of the evolution of the Himalaya.  The Himalayan ranges are believed to have been uplifted due to the northern movement of the Indian shield. Most students of Himalayan geology envisage two geosynclines before the onset of the Himalayan orogeny a miogeosyncline to the south representing the main Himalayan ranges and the Tethyan geosyncline towards the north representing the Tibetan zone.  The Himalaya are believed to be a result of convergence between the Tibetan block and the northwards moving Indian plate during the Mesozoic, resulting in extensive subduction.  The Indus Suture Zone marks the subduction of the Indian Plate beneath the Tibetan plate.  Powell and Conaghan (1973) envisage a two-stage development of the Himalaya.  The first stage is marked by a convergence of the Indian and Tibetan plates during Late Cretaceous and Paleocene resulting in a collision between the two before Mid Eocene.  The second stage of the Himalayan orogeny, according to them, is marked by the development of a deep crustal fracture within the Indial Plate, just south of the Indus Suture during Late Eocene and Oligocene, along which underthrusting of the southern part continued up to recent times.  This phase, which lasted up to the Middle Miocene, is coeval with large scale isoclinal and recumbent folding of high grade metamorphic Precambrian rocks, and their southward movement in the form of huge nappes over the younger sedimentaries.  Most of the nappes and thrust sheets of the Lesser Himalaya, widespread regional metamorphism, anatexis and acid igneous activity are associated with this phase. 

The tectonic activity leading to the development of the Himalaya continued beyond Miocene and most of the present structures of the Himalaya developed during the late Pliocene to Middle Pliestocene period.  The Siwalik sediments which had attained considerable thickness in the foredeep basins south of the Himalayan ranges, were uplifted during this period.  This period also marked the formation of another thrust the Main Boundary Fault - south of the Main Central Thrust along which much of the crustal shortening during this period was accommodated. 

Echoes of once prolific tectonic activity are still to be witnessed in the Himalaya in the form of tectonic creep along most of the thrusts and faults, translation of Upper Siwalik rocks over the subrecent gravels, and seismicity in the entire region, al of which strongly suggest that the Himalayan orogeny has not yet ceased.

Faults and Thrusts in Pithoragarh district




Wallrock Alteration



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S. Farooq

Department of Geology

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