The Naga Hills and Andaman ophiolite belt, their setting, nature and collisional emplacement history
The Indo-Burmese Range and the Andaman-Nicobar Island Arc, form a continuous arcuate trend along which several ophiolite occurrences have been reported. In Naga Hills (NHO) and Andaman (ANO), these ophiolites are represented by dismembered mafic and ultramafic rocks with closely associated oceanic pelagic sediments. They occur as folded thrust slices occupying the highest tectonic levels and are brought to lie over distal shelf sediments of Eocene to Oligocene age. Ophiolites are unconformably overlain by ophiolite-derived clastics of Middle to Late Eocene age. The ophiolites preserved along this belt are remnants of a continuous, narrow, one or several intra-continental ocean basin(s) of broadly comparable age, created during the Late Mesozoic rifting of the Greater India Gondwana continent. Rifting and creation of oceanic crust date between Cretaceous and Early Eocene. In the initial stages, the ocean floor had been deeper than Carbonate Compensation Depth (CCD). Subsequently it had become uneven, when oceanic crust was being added through several seamounts or seamount chains and on top of which calcareous pelagic sediments were deposited. Both tholeiitic and alkaline volcanic rocks are present in these ophiolites. In NHO, the two groups of lavas have generated from different sources in different tectonic settings. The alkalic and some tholeiitic lavas in NHO are similar to off-axis seamount basalts. Tholeiitic lavas from ANO and some NHO resemble MORB or backarc basin basalts and on the basis of certain chemical characters these are suggested to have generated in marginal basin setting. Significant volume of acid differentiates are associated in ANO which also support the marginal basin character of the basalts. The suite of rocks in ANO indicates fractionation in a shallow level magma chamber. Closure of the small ocean basin(s) and emplacement of ophiolites took place in two stages. In the initial stage, the seamount chain brought to the subduction zone collided with the Burmese block prior to Middle Eocene. Part of the ophiolites represent clipped seamounts which got accreted to the leading edge of the eastern continental block. With continued closure, this eastern block with accreted ophiolite slices was brought in juxtaposition with distal shelf sediments of the western block marking the terminal continent-continent collision. The thrust front of ophiolitic rocks apparently advanced further westward in Andaman to the south compared to the northern sector, and thus an imbricated zone and melange involving the Eocene floor sediments (Lipa Fm) has been created, whereas in the Naga Hills the floor sediments (Disang Fm) remained virtually passive. The time of terminal continental collision is represented as the regional Late Oligocene unconformity. The entire thrust stack got deformed and folded into upright geometry after being blocked. The present subduction of oceanic crust beneath the Andaman island arc appears to be a westward jump of subduction zone due to sustained post-collisional NE drive of the Indian plate.