Environment and Climate Changes during the Holocene: Inferred from Sedimentary Record/Proxies of a Paleodelta Region, Southwest Coast of India

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Narayana Chinna Allu1, Vinu Prakash2, Pawan Kumar Gautam1 and S K Bera3, (1)University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad, India, (2)Cochin University of Science and Technology, Marine Geology & Geophysics, Cochin, India, (3)Birbal Sahni Institute of Paleobotany, Lucknow, India
This work explains the sedimentation history and environment and climate changes during the Holocene along the southwest coast of India. The area is characterized by various landforms such as lagoons, barrier islands, beach ridges, paleostrandlines, alluvial plains, marshy lands and flood plains. Paleodelta, located at the mouth of the modern Periyar River is an important geomorphic marker.

A borehole of 40 m depth was drilled in the paleodelta and sediment samples were recovered at different depth intervals. Paleoclimate and paleo-environment were inferred based on geochronology, textural and geotechnical parameters, clay minerals, and pollen analysis results.

The bottom of the borehole represents an age of ~ 12 ka BP. Sediments exhibit coarsening texture upwards of the borehole, with fine mud and peat intercalations at the bottom. Six litho facies - muddy sand, sand, sandy mud, silty sand, sandy silt, and mud - were recorded. Geotechnical properties comprising moisture content, organic carbon, plasticity index record high values, whereas low bulk density associated with a low critical shear stress, are recorded. An increase in illite and to a lesser degree smectite with concomitant decrease in kaolinite is observed.

Sediment texture represents a major change of depositional environment from marine to fluvial sedimentary facies during the major sea level fall i.e., after 7 ka B.P. The present sea level attained during 4-5 ka B.P; major rise of sea level has taken place from 7-11 ka BP and regression during 7 – 5 ka B.P. These transgression and regression phases introduced the changes in the environment of deposition. The monsoon was dynamic and more intense after the major fall of sea level causing the fluctuations in the fluvial facies. Upward coarsening of grain size in the borehole indicates change in sediment deposition due to increased hydrodynamic conditions and strong fluvial action, which can be linked to marine regression. Geotechnical properties suggest textural changes and sedimentary facies. An upward increase in smectite and kaolinite and decreasing illite supports major fall in sea level and also the aridity. Pollen record of sediment strata supports the paleo-environment dominated by the presence of semi-evergreen type of mangrove plants during mid- to early-Holocene times.