Indian tectonic plate moving, land shrinking

Scientists said while the collision is slower on land, it is happening at a faster pace in the oceans.
The Himalayas.
The Himalayas.( File Photo)

BENGALURU: India’s land mass is reducing at a pace of over 2mm per year. This is because the Indian tectonic plate is shifting towards the Eurasian plate. This collision, which has been happening for some time now, has caught the attention of scientists and seismologists globally.

This is more so because the Himalayan mountains, the highest in the world, are still young and while they are growing taller because of the collision with the Eurasian plates, they are also splitting into layers on the surface.

Scientists said while the collision is slower on land, it is happening at a faster pace in the oceans. This is because the continental plates are thick and more buoyant when compared to the denser oceanic plates. They said due to this, there will be more earthquakes in north-east India, North India and Tibet. This split is different from what is happening in East Africa, where the rift is leading to the formation of a new ocean and a new microcontinent.

‘Split process started 40 bn years ago’

Kusala Rajendran, seismologist and former faculty member of IISc, Centre for Earth Sciences, said the process started around 40 billion years ago and the split beyond Tibet will happen, not immediately, but in the later years. With this, the Himalayan ranges will move somewhere else.

While she has been working on this for three decades, other scientists ventured into it in the recent past. At its recent annual meeting, the American Geophysical Union stated that the world’s highest mountain ranges — The Himalayas — are even more complex than what is believed. Researchers are also studying the formation of the Himalayas and its future, which will help better understand the impact of earthquakes.

In the journal, Science, researchers stated that the layers of the Indian plates are peeling off. The Indian plates are delaminating, they said.

Researchers from Stanford University said drilling over 100km deep is not advisable as per inferences drawn from helium bubbles seen in Tibetan springs. After measuring the isotope ratio of helium in Tibetan springs, the researchers found that the plate has not yet split in the south of Tibet, except for Bhutan, where the mantle is said to have penetrated the crust leading to the creation of anomalous signals.

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The New Indian Express