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Sri Lanka lies on the Indian tectonic plate, formerly part of the Indo-Australian Plate and of Gondwanaland. In the early Mesozoic the Indian plate including Sri Lanka separated from the African, Antarctic and Australian plates and moved rapidly northeastwards. In the Eocene the Indian plate collided with the Asian landmass creating the Himalayan mountain range in northern India. It continues to move northwards with Sri Lanka is far from the collision zone.

Onshore the country is a stable block of the Indian plate underlain almost entirely by Precambrian basement metamorphic rocks. Some limited outcrops of Jurassic sediments are present near the western coast whilst Miocene limestones underlie the northwestern shelf and a narrow belt along the onshore west coast. This coastline is part of the Cauvery Basin of southeast India which has been accumulating sediments from the highlands of India and Sri Lanka since the breakup of Gondwanaland. In Sri Lanka, the Cauvery basin lies within the Palk Strait. South of a ridge that defines the Palk Strait it is called the Mannar basin.

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The Mannar Basin

The Cauvery Basin extends along the southeast coast of India and northwest coast of Sri Lanka. It lies on trend with the Mannar Basin within the Gulf of Mannar. Both basins are intra-cratonic rifts resulting from fragmentation of Gondwanaland during drifting of the Indian sub-continent away from the Antarctic plate that began in the Late Jurassic. The basin contains up to 6,000m of shale, sandstones and minor limestones ranging in age from Late Jurassic to Recent.

Cretaceous deep water fans provide potential reservoirs with analogues seen in east India and along the coast of East Africa. A number of sub-parallel horsts and grabens trend northeast-southwest and may form traps. Source rocks are gas-prone.

Deep water gas discoveries in the Mannar basin prove the presence of gas fields. However, Globalshift believes that none have yet proved commercially viable.

SRI LANKA: SEDIMENTARY BASINS

Globalshift.co.uk (source: ResearchGate)