Geology around Woodstock school, Mussoorie

Woodstock school is one of the oldest residential schools in Asia and was established in the year 1854. The school is nestled in lesser Himalayas in a small quiet town of Landour near Mussoorie, Uttarakhand. The geographical location is at  30.4543° N, 78.1005° E.

Woodstock School, Mussoorie

The campus of the school lies along the protective forest area of Mussoorie at an altitude of around 7000 feet. Woodstock school encompasses an area of around 300 acres approximately. The picturesque panorama depicts as of an ‘inselberg’ an island mountain.

View of Woodstock school from Mussoorie ©sumanmitraphotography

The geology, lithology and stratigraphy in and around Woodstock school is remarkable. The rock types mainly comprises of Quartzite , dolomitic limestone, cemented terrigenous sedimentary rocks which mainly comprise of sandstone with beds of clay , minor clay shale beds, slate and phyllites, schist, shale with interbedded clayey and non-clayey rocks weathered shale and schists. The rockbeds dip in the south east direction and strike is in the northeast and southwest direction.

Panoramic view amidst clouds, Mussoorie

Due to action of various weathering agents such as heavy rainfall, snowfall, wide range of temperature difference between day and night, the rock minerals are highly disintegrated. The limestones are easily soluble in water and cause weathering of the rock along joints and crevasses leaving behind bare mountain faces. There are erosional valleys which are youthful in their development. Geomorphologicaly the area is in the initial state of its development due to high denudation. During heavy rainfall high rate of removal of top soil takes place through gullies and channels in and around the campus.

Snowfall near Woodstock school, Mussoorie
View of Mussoorie after snowfall from Woodstock School, Landour

The soil type mainly comprises of argillaceous shale, clayey soil with naturally formed surface (alluvial) , debris comprising mostly rock pieces mixed with clayey/sandy soil, older well compacted and younger loose material.There are few springs around Landour which are mostly confined to shales. Along the hillside small intermittent streamlets are there where nallas have cut gullies below ground level. In some places water oozes out of the carbonaceous bed along Tehri road.

Clayey to sandy soil with mixed rock pieces and debris

One can easily observe high metamorphic and sedimentary complexes with rocktypes beyond 500 million years on geological time scale around Woodstock school. Mussoorie and surrounding area are very important with respect to geological perspective. If one is interested in the stratigraphical studies, this area consists of remarkable features to study. Major formations in Mussoorie group consist of the Tal formation overlying the Krol formation and Blaini formation.  The Tal formation is well exposed along the Krol Belt, and is overlying the Precambrian Krol Group.The Blaini formation is overlained by the  Krol formation. One can easily notice this  geological feature when one reaches Woodstock school via Mussoorie bypass NH 707A. The feature has Precambrian and Cambrian boundary made up limestone and phosphorites. The rocktypes are around 542 million years old.

Precambrian and Cambrian boundary (Krol- Tal formation)
Limestone and phosphorites along Krol – Tal formation boundary

The Jabarkhet Nature Reserve is a private owned forest which lies around 3 kms ahead of Woodstock school. Earlier this area was ecologically degraded and overgrazed. But with the genuine efforts of the local people and various scholars this nature reserve is now replenishing and blooming with floral and faunal biodiversity. The rocktypes mainly comprise of Quartzites, limestones, dolomitic limestone, sedimentary rocks which mainly comprise non-clayey rocks weathered shale,and schists and debris. One can observe joint planes, rock fractures, cleavages along the massive boulders in Flaghill. The soil type is clayey soil with naturally formed surface (alluvial) , debris comprising mostly rock pieces mixed with clayey/sandy and weathered soil, older well compacted and younger loose material. The soil is slightly acidic. Jabarkhet nature reserve also serves as local learning resource and outdoor activities.  

Limestone and dolomitic limestone rocks and boulders in Jabarkhet Nature Reserve
Debris and rock pieces mixed with clayey and sandy soil
Diverse flora and mushrooms in Jabarkhet Nature Reserve

About 7 kilometres ahead of Woodstock school near Kaplani, there lies inclined bedding planes which are dipped in southwest angle. The bedding planes are made out of red sandstone. The beds display ferrous leaching. Joints and fracture also can be clearly seen. The sedimentary structure shows unique Ripple marks. The ripple marks are mostly present in the Sandstones, which are mostly ferruginous in content. The ripple marks at this site show different current directions.

Inclined bedding planes of Red Sandstone showing ripple marks near Kaplani
Red Sandstone showing multiple fractures and joints
Mega ripple marks on Sandstone

In Dhobighat area, one can easily notice exposures of dolomitic limestone alongwith weathered cherty phosphorites. The beds dip in the northeast direction. Subsurfacial perennial affluent streams can be observed.

On a bright sunny day one can observe majestic view of the snow covered Himalayas, if one follows the road from Woodstock school towards Dhanaulty,

Picturesque Himalayas enroute Dhanaulty
Panoramic view of the Himalayas enroute Batagad

The scarp facets along the road has large detached rocks which have moved as rock-falls. Many roadside accident have also occurred in the past due to sudden rockfalls. In most places the fragmented boulders and rocks are loosely attached and can slide any moment. Due to increased transport near Mussoorie – Tehri road new road constructions are taking place.

Intercalation of bedding planes
Rock excavation

On a bright sunny day one can observe majestic view of the snow covered Himalayas, if one follows the road from Woodstock school towards Dhanaulty,

Mussoorie lies in the seismic zone 4 and has witnessed several earthquakes. These days one can observe numerous construction along roadsides as well as on slopes. According to recent reports an earthquake will collapse urban areas in Mussoorie and surrounding areas. So care should be taken while construction and damage assessment of the buildings should be done

Geology, soil and vegetation are not only interdependent but are also functionally
inseparable. The flora is an important factor of soil formation and the floral composition in an area also gives an insight into soil and geomorphic and geological conditions. Changes in either vegetation or soil cover are interalia affect each other.

Vegetation around Woodstock school, Mussoorie

Geology of an area or mountainous tract is very important for any mountaineer or rock climber. Climbers through their experience know that different types of rock affect the route to the summit. Climbers also have the knowledge that some rock are durable whether others are fragile.

Mountaineer (Suman Mitra) exploring geological terrains

There are ample research work available on the geological studies around Mussoorie, but during my study I didn’t came across any work which studies the geology in and around Woodstock school. Despite covering vast geographical area of around 300 acres, which mainly comprise of Oak, Deodar and Pine forest not enough attention is given towards the geology as well as changing geomorphology of this particular area. There are ample rock exposures where students can visit to study various geological aspects.The information presented in this blog is far from complete. However, effort is to collect information and continue studies and further update more information  and go on for the quest of knowledge of the geological setup of this particular area.

Geology is an essential knowledge: climbing success – or even your life – can depend on your understanding the form and substance that form the mountains…verse from the book.. Mountaineering… Freedom of the hills.

Thank you!!


Picture courtesy
copyright @sumanmitraphotography

©All images and content are subjected to copyright

Published by Dr. Chandrima Debi

Hi, I am Chandrima Debi. I am a Doctorate in Forestry and an independent researcher. Ever since childhood, I experienced deep-rooted connection with nature, forest and wildlife. I have written various research articles, case studies based on geology, forests, medicinal plants, biodiversity and conservation. Through this blog I share my experiences with nature and forests around us and aid towards the protection and conservation of biodiversity, wildlife and the values associated.

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