Friday, December 03, 2021

Regional

1.6 billion year old fossils of stromatolite found around Chitrakoot

YS RANA | November 02, 2021 05:37 PM

CHANDIGARH: Signatures of origin of earth and early life are very well documented in the rocks exposed in and around Chitrakoot. The entire place of Chitarkoot is filled with stories of his life and activities and is today famous for religious tourism.

Team of geologists Prof SK Tripathi Dean Student Welfare MGCGU University and Dr Ritesh Arya Guinness World Record Holder of Indian Geopark from Chandigarh who was in Chitarkoot to collect fossils of early life for his Tethys Fossil Museum of evolution in KASAULI jointly visited these sites and after detailed investigations found that the rich fossil sites are totally neglected inspite of the fact that Oldham 1856 was first to study these rocks and coined the term Vidhayans.

Around 120 milion years ago India drifted from Africa and moved like an island attaining its present position after the culmination of suturing between India and China leading to the evolution of the Himalayas. These early life forms are today very well preserved in the hills of Ramshaiya, Sangrampur hill , Sati Ansuiya, Lakhshman pahari, Kamdigiri Parvat, Gupt Godavari , Hanuman Dhara and Spatakshillsa all these hills named after Ram Lakshamna and Hanuman where lord Ram spent 11.6 years of his exile.

They planned to develop these geological sites which hold valuable information about the origin of life on earth as geoheritage sites so that the enormous valuable information hidden in these rocks can be passed to the tourists visiting this region.

This will help in promoting Geotourism on one hand and on the other will be live laboratory for the students, researchers and scientists from India and abroad visiting this place to study the signatures of early life on the earth, says Dr Arya.

He further said that the granite rocks exposed at the base date back to 3.5 billion years old and were once part of the Pangaea, the one landmass formed at the time of origin of earth and this was surrounded by the mighty ocean the Panthalasa. As the things normalized and favorable environment flourished the evolution of life started in the form of blue green algae or cyanobacteria today known as the Stromatolites, the signatures of these life forms are very well preserved in the rocks exposed. Later life developed in the lime and phosphorous rich waters and dominated the early life forms in this planet earth which was a one unit at that time. These algal mats are the early signatures of life on this earth.

The team plans to identify various geological spots of geological importance and develop them from a tourist point of view. This will be a boon to enhance the geological knowledge of Chitrakoot to the common man and help in promoting geotourism.

Gupt Godavari caves where Lord Ram held his court was geologically very carefully selected and developed by Rishi Vishkarma who took all the measures to see not only the availability of space in the cave which could house upto 200 men sitting and 350 men standing but also had a perennial water stream. Two sources of spring water are found, one for drinking and other for miscellaneous use. Evidence feeding the Channel was found n the form of boulders found in the end of the cave. This water which actually resulted in the formation of the cave, ” says he.

The water was sufficient to take care of his men and horses. These caves are geologically made of 1.6 billion years old limestone rocks but were formed by dissolution of limestone by action of water. The narrow entrance of these caves formed due to collapse of the cave walls made it a perfect place for meeting all the geowarfare requirements making it a perfect fort.

The Sphatik shila where Ram and Sita sat on the limestone rock and enjoyed serenity of Paisuni today famous as Mandakani river is 1.6 billion years old shows cycles of deposition of limestone with very thin band of quratz deposited in deep marine environments and fossils of Stromatolites and algal mats with beautiful preserved concentric rings are found which if not preserved will be lost in time.

The Kamath hill is today famous for Parikarama of lord Ram but geologically it holds records of the contact between Achaean rocks represented by the granites and the Vidhyan rocks of PreCambrain age represented by fossiliferous limestones rich in Stromatolites representing signatures of early life forms.

The Hanuman Dhara is dominatingly made of Vindhayan sandstone which exhibit very good sedimentary structures like ripple marks, current and angular bedding overlying the limestone beds which are text book examples. These porosity in sandstones are the reason for the perennial source of water in this hills.

The puropose of making this Geoheritage project is to protect and preserve the rick fossil sites so that the early remains of life are not lost to agents of weathering and erosion and human activity which otherwise unknowlingly destroy them in the name of construction or road expansion.

Stones and rocks of geological importance in and around parikarma and other hills would be selected and displayed. Sign boards displayed highlighting geological information about its origin and age so that the visitors enjoy the valuable experience of walking on the 3.8 billion years old rocks besides seeing the fossils of early life as they walk along the 5.6kms of parikarma.

Sage Bharadwaj ji had suggested Lord Rama to go Chitrakoot may be the signatures of early life on earth and oldest rocks formed at the time of evolution of earth was known to him.

According to Dr Ritesh Arya "We already have a rich cultural and historical knowledge of Chitrakoot associated with the time spent in exile by lord Ram, integrating this with geological knowledge and geoheritage sites will boost geotourism in the region and all this will help Chitrakoot to be developed as the 1st Geopark of the nation".

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