Series of impacts formed Himalayas- reveals a new study conducted at the MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and the Planetary Sciences. The study challenges an existing theory of formation of the great range of Himalayas, in a single event. Now, the range runs nearly over 1400-miles and is a line of separation between the Indian plains and the Tibetan Plateau. And the researchers have always been keen to know the real reasons behind its formation. Thus, the recent study tries to uproot the single-collision theory and wants to establish that a series of impacts formed the Himalayas, and not just one.
The Research and the Researchers
The research which is published in the PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America) seems to be a landmark in the field of geophysics and geology. And the researchers like Craig Martin, an EAPS graduate, and MIT’s associate professor of geology Oliver Jagoutz, and Leigh Royden, the Cecil and Ida Green Professor of geology and geophysics have been an important part of the research. There is another set of researchers from MIT’s Paleomagnetism Laboratory, Ben Weiss, and EAPS undergraduate Jade Fischer have also contributed to the whole study. After now post-research, they collectively believe that the Himalayas are a place of immense mystification and provide enough food for research.
The Neotethys Ocean
Let’s take a look at the events that happened around 135 million years ago. Now, the then existing Neotethys Ocean was a clear divide of 4000 miles between the Indian and the Eurasian tectonic plates. And about 50-55 million years ago, the plate of this Ocean started to slide under the earth’s mantle of the Eurasian plate. This process of sliding of one plate under another one is simply called subduction. And the area where it happens is called the subduction zone. Now, in the subduction zone, post a rigorous subduction process, often a lot of geological events follow. These can be the forming of volcanoes, occurring of earthquakes, and sometimes forming of trenches, etc.
Another subduction zone
Well, the existing belief says that the Himalayas were formed out of one big convergent collision. But scientists today seem quite unconvinced with the idea and decided to dig further. They replicated the supposed collision, only to find out a considerable delay in the subduction that happened today and the subduction that happened millions of years ago. This study led the scientists into believing that there must have been more events that took place to fill up this time delay. And thus today they propose a theory of existence of another subduction zone and also an oceanic plate.
The real test-How series of impacts formed Himalayas
To establish the hypothesis, that series of impacts formed the Himalayas, researchers conducted various tests with rocks that are found in Ladakh’s region. And this region shares boundaries with the Eurasian plate. Now, with the help of paleomagnetism, the team found out the time, location, and orientation of these rocks, which helped in establishing the concrete results. Paleomagnetism, is a part of geophysics which studies magnetism in rocks. This magnetism got induced in rocks from the earth’s magnetism at the time of their formation. Along with this, after digging further into very many facts like the demagnetization and the heating, the researchers were able to find out the latitude of rocks. Hence, Martin proposes that the Himalayas must have crashed into the volcanic Island chain first before crashing with Eurasia. The said study also comes in strong support of the work of Oli and Wiki, who state reasons for India moving to the North quickly for unknown reasons. Martin adds that hidden insights such as the ultimate collision’s age, number of subduction zones, and also the involvement of the continental crusts in the formation of the Himalayas, will reform the continental collision study pattern certainly.
A study reveals that a series of impacts formed the Himalayas and not just one collision. The study involved various geologists, geophysicists, and researchers who studied theories like paleomagnetism. They eventually were able to find out amazing insights into how the Himalayas were born out of not just one collision. The study seems promising for future researches associated with the study of Himalayan ranges and continental collision.