Seismic Images of the Biggest Crash on Earth

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Science  17 Sep 2010:
Vol. 329, Issue 5998, pp. 1479-1480
DOI: 10.1126/science.1191620

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In plate tectonics, the upper layer of Earth (the lithosphere) consists of rigid plates that shift over geological time scales. Data from global positioning surveys have estimated that the entire Indian subcontinent has moved over the past 50 years about 2 m to the north, diving slowly underneath Tibet. This giant collision has been ongoing for 50 million years and has thrown up the highest mountains as well as the largest and highest plateau on Earth. Not only is the world climate strongly influenced by this massive plateau (average elevation of 5000 m), but the collision also causes catastrophic earthquakes in southern, central, and eastern Asia.