The Indian Ocean Tsunami: The Global Response to a Natural Disaster

By Pradyumna P. Karan; Shanmugam P. Subbiah | Go to book overview

3
Geological and Geomorphological
Perspectives of the Tsunami
on the Tamil Nadu Coast, India

S. R. Singarasubramanian, M. V. Mukesh, K. Manoharan, P. Seralathan, and S. Srinivasalu


Eastern Continental Margin of South India

The Tamil Nadu coast of India extends to a length of about 1,026 km (615.6 miles). The coastal zone—the transition between the land and the sea—is a fragile, complex, and productive ecosystem. The southern part of the coast is tectonically more stable than the northern part (Rao and Rao 1985). The width of the continental shelf varies from about 10 to 45 km (6 to 27 miles) in nondeltaic areas. During the last glaciation, as a result of the lowering of the sea level, the entire continental shelf was exposed to subaerial erosion and fluvial deposition. The rivers cut across the shelf up to the edge, depositing sediments directly onto the continental slope or into the submarine valleys.

During the mid-Holocene, the sea level rose rapidly, the carbonate reef growth was truncated, and submarine valleys were delinked from river sources, as they could not keep pace with the rapid sea level rise. More sediment deposit on the inner shelf created barriers and ridges. The Holocene delta progradation of the Palar and Kaveri rivers of Tamil Nadu into the offshore regime is limited, unlike other rivers of India’s east coast such as the Mahanadi, Godavari, and Krishna.

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