Evolution of Laterite in Goa

Widdowson, Mike (2009). Evolution of Laterite in Goa. In: Mascarenhas, Antonio and Kalavampara, Glenn eds. Natural Resources of Goa: A Geological Perspective. India: Geological Society of Goa, pp. 35–68.


This work summarises the occurrence, distribution and evolution of laterite in Goa State, India. It places the development of Goan laterite within the context of the geomorphological and geological (i.e. morphotectonic) evolution of the western continental margin of India. The multiphase rift history that affected western India during the Mesozoic has placed important constraints upon this morphotectonic evolution, and also upon the associated erosional, depositional and deep weathering effects that have contributed to the long-term development of the continental margin.

The Konkan – Kanara coastal lowland region of western India evolved geomorphologically during Cenozoic times. It is bounded to the east by the immensely long (c. 1600 km) Western Ghats escarpment. From Trivandrum to Mumbai (c. 8° - 19°N) the coastal lowlands that precede the Ghats escarpment are remarkable for the occurrence of a shallowly dipping, discontinuous ramp or 'belt' of dissected laterite-capped 'table lands' which slope gently toward the coast. These table lands represent the remnants of a once extensive, semi-continuous laterite belt that originally extended along the length of western peninsular India. This widespread lateritization testifies to an important phase of tropical deep weathering that occurred during the Late Cenozoic when favourable climatic conditions reached an acme. The laterites of Goa State form an important component of this Late Cenozoic Konkan – Kanara laterite belt, and assist in providing a broader understanding of the syn- and post-Miocene evolution of the coastal regions of western India.

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