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Page:Provincial geographies of India (Volume 1).djvu/74

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GEOLOGY AND MINERAL RESOURCES

Of this kaleidoscopic assemblage of questions the ones of most immediate interest are connected with the Silurian-Trias succession in the Kashmir valley, for here we have a connecting-link between the marine formations of the Salt Range area and those which are preserved in greater perfection in Spiti and other parts of the Tibetan highlands, stretching away to the south-east at the back of the great range of crystalline snow-covered peaks.

In this interesting part of Kashmir the most important feature to Indian geologists is the occurrence of plant remains belonging to genera identical with those that occur in the lower part of the great coal-bearing formation of Peninsular India, known as the Gondwana system. Until these discoveries were made in Kashmir about ten years ago the age of the base of the Gondwanas was estimated only on indirect evidence, partly due to the assumption that glacial conditions in the Salt Range and those at the base of the Gondwanas were contemporaneous, and partly due to analogy with the coal measures of Australia and South Africa. In Kashmir the characteristic plant remains of the Lower Gondwanas are found associated with marine fossils in great abundance, and these permit of a correlation of the strata with the upper part of the Carboniferous system of the European standard stratigraphical scale.

Kashmir seems to have been near the estuary of one of the great rivers that formerly flowed over the ancient continent of Gondwdnaland (when India and South Africa formed parts of one continental mass) into the great Eurasian Ocean known as Tethys. As the deposits formed in this great ocean give us the principal part of our data for forming a standard stratigraphical scale, the plants which were carried out to sea become witnesses of the kind of flora that flourished during the