Underplating in the Himalaya-Tibet Collision Zone Revealed by the Hi-CLIMB Experiment

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Science  11 Sep 2009:
Vol. 325, Issue 5946, pp. 1371-1374
DOI: 10.1126/science.1167719

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We studied the formation of the Himalayan mountain range and the Tibetan Plateau by investigating their lithospheric structure. Using an 800-kilometer-long, densely spaced seismic array, we have constructed an image of the crust and upper mantle beneath the Himalayas and the southern Tibetan Plateau. The image reveals in a continuous fashion the Main Himalayan thrust fault as it extends from a shallow depth under Nepal to the mid-crust under southern Tibet. Indian crust can be traced to 31°N. The crust/mantle interface beneath Tibet is anisotropic, indicating shearing during its formation. The dipping mantle fabric suggests that the Indian mantle is subducting in a diffuse fashion along several evolving subparallel structures.

  • Present address: Earth Sciences Department, ETH Zurich, 8092 Zurich, Switzerland.

  • Present address: Ecole et Observatoire des Sciences de la Terre, CNRS-UMR 7516, 5 rue René Descartes, 67084 Strasbourg, France.

  • § Present address: Alberta Geological Survey, 4999-98 Avenue, Edmonton, Alberta T6B 2X3, Canada.

  • ||All additional authors with their affiliations appear at the end of this paper.

  • Project Hi-CLIMB Team

  • L. Mitchell,1 D. Sherstad,1 M. Arsenault,1 J. Baur,1 S. Carpenter,1 M. Donnahue,1 D. Myers,1 T.-L. Tseng,2 T. Bardell,2 N. VanHoudnos,2 M. Pandey,3 G. Chitrakar,3 S. Rajaure,3 G. Xue,4 Y. Wang,4 S. Zhou,5 X. Liang,5 G. Ye,5 C.-C. Liu,6 J. Lin,6 C.-L. Wu,6 N. Barstow7

  • 1 College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR, USA. 2Department of Geology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL, USA. 3Department of Mines and Geology, Kathmandu, Nepal. 4Institute of Geology, Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences, Beijing, PRC. 5Institute of Theoretical and Applied Geophysics, Peking University, Beijing, PRC. 6Institute of Earth Sciences, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan. 7PASSCAL, Socorro, NM, USA.

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