Seismogenesis of the lower crustal intraplate earthquakes occurring in Kachchh, Gujarat, India

Prantik Mandal, O. P. Pandey

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30 Scopus citations


Large intraplate continental earthquakes like the 1811-12 New Madrid (Mw≥8.0) and the 2001 Bhuj (Mw7.7) were highly destructive because they occurred in strong crust, but the mechanisms underlying their seismogenesis are not understood. Here we show, using local earthquake velocity tomography, and joint inversion of receiver functions and surface wave group velocity dispersion that the crust and uppermost mantle beneath the 2001 Bhuj earthquake region of western India is far more complex than hitherto known through previous studies. A new image of the crust and underlying mantle lithosphere indicates the presence of a 18-km thick high velocity (Vp: 7.15-8.11km/s) differentiated crustal and mantle magmatic layer above a hot and thin lithosphere (only 70km) in the epicentral region of 2001 Bhuj earthquake. This magmatic layer begins at the depth of 24km and continues down to 42km depth. Below this region, brittle-ductile transition reaches as deep as the Moho (∼34km) due to the possible presence of olivine rich mafic magma. Our 1-D velocity structure envisages an initial phase of plume activity (Deccan plume at 65m.y. ago) resulting in basaltic magma in the eclogitic layers at sub-lithospheric levels, wherein they were subjected to crystallization under ultra-high pressure conditions. Our study also delineates an updoming of Moho (∼4-7km) as well as asthenosphere (∼6-10km) below the Kachchh rift zone relative to surrounding areas, suggesting the presence of a confined body of partial melts below the lithosphere-asthenosphere boundary. Restructuring of this warm and thin lithosphere may have been caused due to rifting (at 184 and 88m.y. ago) and tholeiitic and alkalic volcanism related to the Deccan Traps K/T boundary event (at 65m.y. ago). Recent study of isotopic ratios proposed that the alkalic basalts found in Kachchh are generated from a CO2 rich lherzolite partial melts in the asthenosphere that ascended along deep lithospheric rift faults into the lithosphere. It appears that such kind of crust-mantle structure, deepening of brittle-ductile transition and a high input of volatiles containing CO2 emanating from mantle control the seismogenesis of lower crustal earthquakes in the Kachchh continental rift zone.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)479-491
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Asian Earth Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - 10 Aug 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Crustal structure
  • Deccan basalts
  • Lithosphere
  • Lower crustal earthquakes
  • Rheology
  • Seismogenesis


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