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Geology of the Himalayan Mountains The collision between the Indian subcontinent and Eurasian continent which started in Paleogene time and continues today produced the Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau spectacular modern examples of the effects of plate tectonics Tibetan Plateau itself is a collage of microplates or continental fragments that were successively added to the Eurasian plate during the Paleozoic and Mesozoic eras Paleomagnetic analysis indicates that these older microplates were in the southern hemisphere during the Paleozoic era Each older fragment like the larger Indian Plate made a long northward journey as the intervening ocean was subducted and was accreted to the Eurasian continent The resulting sutures are marked by scattered occurrences of ophiolite ocean floor material that was caught up between the crustal blocks during accretion The collision that produced the Himalayas was only the latest albeit climactic episode in this long series of collisions The Indian plate continues to move northward relative to Asia about 5 cm per year Given the great magnitudes of the blocks of the Earths crust involved this is a remarkable rate about twice the speed at which your fingernails grow This movement caused the rocks along the leading edge of the Indian plate to deform and fracture Immense slices of Indian crust were pushed southward and stacked up to produce the Himalayan orogen figure Several distinct sequences of rock are recognized in the Himalayas separated from one another and rocks of the Indian plate by northward-dipping fault zones It is these zones that accommodated the huge amounts of crustal shortening as the rock sequences were slid one over another From north to south these rock packages and fault zones are the Tibetan Sedimentary Sequence blue South Tibetan Detachment Zone Detachment Fault Greater Himalayan Sequence red and pink Main Central Thrust MCT and Maha Bharat Thrust MT Lesser Himalayan Sequence light blue Main Boundary Thrust MBT and Main Frontal Thrust MFT and Gangetic Basin of the
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