Basin classification rests on a plate tectonic foundation, highlighting lithospheric substrate, proximity to plate margin and relative motion of the nearest plate boundary. Major mechanisms for regional subsidence and uplift are subdivided into isostatic, flexural and dynamic groups. Basin-forming mechanisms and basin types do not exhibit simple cause-and-effect relationships, but rather reflect a matrix-type relationship. Different basin types have different spans of existence, with generally shorter life spans related to more tectonically active settings. Many ‘polyhistory’ basins, composed of two or more megasequences, reflect a long evolution dominated by different basin-forming and basin-modifying mechanisms. The supercontinent cycle is marked by distinct sets of basin types, developed during successive phases of the cycle. Major classification schemes are reviewed briefly, before surveying the range of basin types represented in the Proterozoic of several key cratonic areas. Basins examined encompass almost the entire Neoarchaean–Neoproterozoic period. All of these basins have a relatively long history of preservation, which can be tied to the essentially continental character of their basement rocks and concomitant enhanced ‘survivability’. Their preservation thus underlines the longevity and inherent stability of the continental lithosphere. The distinction between basin occurrence over geological time and preferential preservation is important when viewing the geological record.
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This Memoir provides a comprehensive review of the Precambrian basins of the four Archaean nuclei of India (Dharwar, Bastar, Singhbhum and Aravalli-Bundelkhand), encompassing descriptions of the time–space distribution of sedimentary–volcanic successions, the interrelationship between tectonics and sedimentation, and basin histories. Studies of 22 basins within the framework of an international basin classification scheme deepen an understanding of the basin architecture especially for cratonic basins. Most Indian sedimentary successions formed as cratonic to extensional-margin rift and thermal-sag basins, some reflecting mantle plume movement, subcrustal heating or far-field stress. This Memoir shows that Phanerozoic plate-tectonic and sequence stratigraphic principles can be applied to the Precambrian basins of large Archaean provinces. The differences between the stratigraphic architecture of the Indian Precambrian and examples of Phanerozoic basin-fill successions elsewhere are ascribed to variable rates and intensities of the controls on accommodation and sediment supply, and changes inherent in the evolution of the hydrosphere–atmosphere and biosphere systems.