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Surface Deformation and Lower Crustal Flow in Eastern Tibet

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Science  02 May 1997:
Vol. 276, Issue 5313, pp. 788-790
DOI: 10.1126/science.276.5313.788

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Abstract

Field observations and satellite geodesy indicate that little crustal shortening has occurred along the central to southern margin of the eastern Tibetan plateau since about 4 million years ago. Instead, central eastern Tibet has been nearly stationary relative to southeastern China, southeastern Tibet has rotated clockwise without major crustal shortening, and the crust along portions of the eastern plateau margin has been extended. Modeling suggests that these phenomena are the result of continental convergence where the lower crust is so weak that upper crustal deformation is decoupled from the motion of the underlying mantle. This model also predicts east-west extension on the high plateau without convective removal of Tibetan lithosphere and without eastward movement of the crust east of the plateau.

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