The primary features (morphologies, structures, textures) of volcanic lava flows are determined by parameters such as composition, temperature, crystallinity, viscosity, flow velocity, strain rate and cooling rate. However, lava flows are open systems, and their primary features are strongly influenced by their emplacement environment. Among subaerial lava flows, those that solidify in a wet environment with rainfall develop very different internal structures (e.g. jointing patterns) and textures from those in a dry environment. Thus, the outcrop structures and textures of ancient lava flows, such as those forming continental flood basalt sequences thousands of metres thick, provide clues to their cooling histories and the palaeoclimates. Here we provide field, petrographic and geochemical data on large tholeiitic lava flows (sheet lobes) and associated dykes of the Saurashtra region in the northwestern Deccan Traps continental flood basalt province (India). The sheet lobes are dominantly pāhoehoe and rubbly pāhoehoe, and occasionally ‘a‘ā, with colonnade and entablature tiers. We show that the jointing patterns in the entablatures (irregular, chevron, rosette and skeleton jointing), and the textures of the sheet lobes and even some dykes (abundant glass, and quench crystals of plagioclase and Fe–Ti oxides) reflect convective heat removal, owing to widespread interaction with meteoric waters (rainfall) during solidification. The observations thus provide evidence for a wet climate in western India 65.5 million years ago.

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