A lithostratigraphic revision and palaeoenvironmental assessment of the Cretaceous System exposed in the onshore Cauvery Basin, Southern India

R. Sundaram, R. A. Henderson, K. Ayyasami, J. D. Stilwell

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The exposed Cretaceous shelf succession of the Cauvery Basin, southeastern India, has provided a world-class record of mid and Late Cretaceous invertebrates, documented in a substantial literature. However, the lithostratigraphy of the succession has been little studied and previously subject to a range of nomenclature. It is revised here, on the basis of intensive regional mapping, to stabilize the definition and nomenclature of lithostratigraphic units. The Uttattur Group is restricted in outcrop to the Ariyalur district and divided into the Arogypapurum Formation (new; Albian), Dalmiapuram Formation (late Albian), and Karai Formation (late Albian-early Turonian) for which the Odiyam and Kunnam Members are recognized. The Trichinopoly Group follows unconformably and is also restricted in outcrop to the Ariyalur district. It is divided into the Kulakkalnattam Formation (Turonian) and Anaipadi Formation (late Turonian-Coniacian). The Ariyalur Group is more widely distributed. In the Ariyalur district, the Sillikkudi Formation (Santonian-Campanian) and its Kilpaluvari Member, the Kallakurichchi Formation (early Maastrichtian), the Kallamedu Formation (mid and Late Maastrichtian) and the Niniyur Formation (Danian) are recognized. The sequence in the Vriddhachalam area consists of the Parur and Patti formations (Campanian), Mattur Formation (late Campanian-earliest Maastrichtian) and Aladi Formation (Maastrichtian). For the Pondicherry district, the Valudavur and Mettuveli formations (Maastrichtian) and Kasur and Manaveli formations (Paleocene) comprise the succession. The interpreted depositional environments for the succession in the Ariyalur district indicate four eustatic cycles in the mid and Late Cretaceous and earliest Tertiary: late Albian-early Turonian, late Turonian-Santonian, Campanian, Maastrichtian, and Paleocene. Overall the Cauvery Basin sequence is arenaceous and relatively labile in terms of framework grain composition, and contrasts with the pelitic assemblage developed on the west Australian margin from which eastern India separated in the Early Cretaceous (Valanginian). The difference is ascribed to palaeoclimate as controlled by palaeolatitude. For the Late Cretaceous, the Cauvery Basin drifted north on the Indian plate from 40 to 30°S. This zone is inferred to constitute Southern Hemisphere horse latitudes for Late Cretaceous time, characterized by an arid climate, physical weathering and the production of labile sands. By contrast, the west Australian margin of matching tectonic history remained in a high palaeolatitude (>40°S) throughout the Late Cretaceous, experiencing a pluvial climate, the dominance of chemical weathering and the production of clays.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)743-762
Number of pages20
JournalCretaceous Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2001


  • Cauvery basin
  • Cretaceous lithostratigraphy
  • Eustatic cycles
  • India
  • Palaeoclimate
  • Sedimentary petrogenesis

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