Abstract

The post-rift denudation history of high-elevation divergent continental margins is central to deciphering source-to-sink systems across such margins and to unraveling their topographic evolution. We performed 40Ar-39Ar dating of supergene K-Mn oxides from supergene manganese ore deposits in order to constrain the age of in situ formed laterites on both the lowland and highland sides of the Western Ghats Escarpment of Peninsular India. Documentation of laterites as old as 53 Ma on the highland and 47 Ma at the foot of the escarpment shows that the escarpment stabilized before 47 Ma (possibly 60 Ma). The topographic setting of the dated weathering mantles also constrains denudation of the lowland and the highland since ca. 50 Ma to maximums of 5 m/m.y. and 15 m/m.y., respectively. Our results challenge denudation rates derived from apatite fission track thermochronology by documenting the topography and relief longevity of the southwest Indian margin and its hinterland. The results preclude large-magnitude uplift of Peninsular India after the Eocene, and more generally argue against late Neogene uplift and topographic rejuvenation of continental shields.

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