Origin and Evolution of Limestone Caves of Chhattisgarh and Orissa, India: Role of Geomorphic, Tectonic and Hydrological Processes

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Pawan Kumar Gautam1, Narayana Chinna Allu1, R. Ramesh2, Madhusudan G Yadava2 and C P Panigrahi3, (1)University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad, India, (2)Physcial Research Laboratoy, Geosciences, Ahmadabad, India, (3)Department of Atomic Energy, Atomic Minerals Directorate, Jaipur, India
Carbonate rocks undergo karstic process and karst morphology is a key to understand the nature and genesis of caves. The primary energy source for the formation of karst landforms is hydrological cycle. Geomorphic features along with hydrological characteristics provide important information not only on karst formation but also climate and environmental conditions. In this paper, we present the tectonic and geomorphic features that played a role in evolution of caves located in Chhattisgarh and Orissa States of India. The geomorphic and tectonic aspects of Kotumsar, Kailash, and Gupteshwar caves are discussed in relation to the origin and evolution of these caves.

Caves are located near the water falls. The area is folded and faulted along the Eastern Ghat Mobile Belt (EGMB) due to tectonic reactivation. Shaly-limestone beds exhibit vertical dipping near Gupteshwar cave, and steeply inclined near Kotumsar and Kailash caves. Indrāvati and Sabari/Kolab tributaries of the Godavari River drain the area.

The landscape evolution and the origin of caves in the region is a multistage process, where the lithology, orogeny, fluvial action, and monsoon are the main agents, which is similar to the four state model (Ford and Ewers, 1978). The river basin evolution and regional tectonism also caused the initiation of karstification in the region.

The evolution of caves is believed to have taken place in Pre-Pliocene under more humid conditions that coincided with the initiation of monsoon in India. Further, during the Quaternary wet-dry/cold-warm phases altered physical and chemical weathering of limestone rocks. Contrasting relief features of Bastar plateau have also helped the extensive cave formation in the region. The dissolution along weak planes initiated the openings of caves, further enlarged by geomorphic agents. Both monsoon and tectonics have caused fluctuations in water levels along river courses, which acted as active agents in evolution of caves.