Singhbhum Craton

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Studying ancient cratons, like the Singhbhum Craton in India and their counterparts in South Africa and Australia offer unprecedented glimpses into our planet's formative years, dating back to 3.5 billion years ago.

About Singhbhum Craton

  • It is a vast swathe of rocky land that stretches mainly across parts of Jharkhand and Odisha, between the Chhota Nagpur plateau and the Eastern Ghats.
  • This ancient part of the Earth’s crust has been found in previous research to date back to 3.5 billion years ago.
  • The craton’s oldest rock assemblages are largely volcanic and sedimentary rocks also known as greenstone successions.
  • Greenstones are rock assemblages made up mostly of sub-marine volcanic rocks with minor sedimentary rocks.
  • The geology of this area shares stark similarity with the greenstone belts documented in South Africa’s Barberton and Nondweni areas and the Pilbara Craton in western Australia.
  • All these areas experienced widespread submarine mafic — meaning high in magnesium oxide — volcanic eruptions between 3.5 and 3.3 billion years ago, preserved as pillowed lava and komatiites.
  • Significance
    • They offer a clearer picture of Earth’s early tectonic activities during the Archaean times, contributing to our understanding of the planet’s formative years.
    • The Singhbhum Craton’s unique geological features, including its greenstone belts, provide invaluable information about Earth’s surface and atmospheric processes.
    • This is crucial for hypothesising early habitable conditions and the emergence of life on Earth.

What are Cratons?

  • Cratons are the oldest and most stable parts of the Earth's crust, acting as the bedrock of continents.
  • These are pieces of ancient continents that formed billions of years ago.
  • Studying them offers a window into how processes within and on the surface of Earth operated in the past.
  • They host a variety of different groups of rocks, including greenstones and granites.

Q1) What is Geology?

Geology is the study of the Earth, the materials of which it is made, the structure of those materials, and the processes acting upon them. It includes the study of organisms that have inhabited our planet. An important part of geology is the study of how Earth's materials, structures, processes and organisms have changed over time.

Source: Earth’s early evolution: Fresh insights from rocks formed 3.5 billion years ago