Tuesday, February 2, 2010

India, the Himalayas, and a Sinking Continent

"India is Sinking into Earth's Mantle"
Michael Reilly, Discovery News (January 30, 2010)

"Fun fact for you: scientists don't really know how the Himalayas formed. I mean yeah, they realize that the India tectonic plate is slamming into the Eurasia plate and has been for about 50 million years, but the mystery is why the mountain range is still growing. Usually when two continents collide it's like a car wreck -- there may be a bunch of mangled crust in the middle (mountains), but both vehicles stop moving...."

"...It's as though two cars collided, and one started to sink into the pavement...."

This YouTube video, embedded in the post, shows you what's happening.

"Himalayan Collision"
geographyalltheway, YouTube (May 14, 2008)
video, 0:12

"An excellent animation of Himalayan formation, featuring captions that date events in the formation of the Himalayas. Shown as a cut-away view of the earth, it's possible to see...."

As I've written before, it's nice when data confirms theory. It's exciting when it doesn't. Many lines of evidence, from fossil magnetism along mid-ocean ridges to the spread of species that paleontologists study, show that continents have been moving around. There's so much supporting data that I think it can be called a fact.

Just how and why continents drift - looks like existing explanations will have to be tweaked, to explain the Himalayas. Exciting!

Well, to me anyway.

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