How mountains get made

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Science  14 Aug 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6249, pp. 687-688
DOI: 10.1126/science.aac8671

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The formation of mountain belts (orogens) in subduction-collision settings, where an oceanic plate subducts beneath continental material, is a fundamental process in plate tectonics. However, the mechanisms by which the continental crust deforms to produce shortening and uplift, and thus high topography, has been a matter of debate. This uncertainty is largely due to the difficulty of making direct observations of deformation in the deep crust to test the predictions made by conceptual models. On page 720 of this issue, Huang et al. (1) use observations of seismic anisotropy to constrain the geometry of deformation in the continental crust beneath the Taiwan orogen, and thus shed light on how the crust deforms as mountains are formed.