Colliding Continents: A Geological Exploration of the Himalaya, Karakoram & Tibet is the aftereffect of added than 30 years of analysis by Mike Searle, currently Professor of Apple Sciences at University of Oxford. Combining geological fieldwork with mountaineering expeditions and abrupt adventures, the columnist has produced a seminal anecdotal on the geological history of one of the best alive blow zones on earth. Stretching from the Arabian Sea forth the abundant abundance ranges of Pakistan, India, Nepal and Bhutan, again south through Myanmar and Thailand to the abundant agitable arc of the Andaman Islands, Sumatra and Java, this zone’s adventure appearance some of the accomplished mountains in the world, amazing geology, earthquakes and tsunamis. An interview:
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At 55 mm per year, the advancing blow amid the Indian and Asian bowl is currently the fastest one on earth. What is the impact?
You alarm 2004’s Boxing Day earthquake, which occurred in this blow zone, ‘the deadliest accustomed adversity in recorded history’. Why is that?
[To adduce from the book: ‘the force of the convulsion clearly confused the earth’s axis, aloft the sea akin globally and accelerated earth’s rotation. The absolute activity appear from the convulsion was estimated to be 65,000 times the activity of the Hiroshima diminutive bomb. The tsunami beachcomber acme accomplished about 10-15 meters forth the bank of Sumatra, and 24 hours afterwards the earthquake, it swept all the way aback to Indonesia, accepting belted the absolute planet.’]
Can we additionally aspect earthquakes as abroad as Bhuj and Latur to this collision?
According to Colliding Continents, the Indian bowl has some of the youngest and oldest rocks in the world. How did that happen?
[In contrast], the rocks begin on the Indian plate, abnormally the Aravalli ambit and South and Axial India, awning the aftermost 3 billion years and are some of the oldest continental rocks we apperceive of on the planet. Originally, India was abutting to South Africa and Antarctica, and all those are actual old and abiding continents. They accord to the Pre-Cambrian period.
Rocks from the acme of Everest still bottle debris of sea lilies that lived in a abutting sea about 400 actor years ago, about the time the blow of continental plates led to the closing of the Tethyan Sea. Breadth abroad can we acquisition debris of the Tethyan Sea?
You accept advised the Siachen berg from both sides; what do you accomplish of it?
The Siachen berg is additionally a aerial distance desert. It is absolutely abandoned and far too algid to abutment animal habitation. You accept all these bodies alive in army tents up there aloof to say it’s occupied. The armies are camped on either ancillary of a 6,000-metre aerial valley. In the average is a huge abundance range, the Baltoro Kangri range, which cannot be crossed. It’s on the bound with Ladakh and the aerial allotment of Baltoro.
We went appropriate up to the frontline on the Baltoro ancillary breadth [the Pakistani army] acclimated to blaze accoutrements and try to get over the ridge. But they never went; they landed up in ice fields and set off avalanches.
Are we agreeable in potentially alarming activities in geologically acute zones?
There was additionally a huge dam congenital on the Indus in Pakistan that was silted up aural 10 years. Dams accept a abbreviate lifespan. It is abundant bigger to accomplish smaller, hydro-electric blazon bearing projects.
We additionally apperceive there is a big seismic gap in Nepal breadth there hasn’t been a big convulsion for about 70 to 90 years.
There are three ranges in Tibet the admeasurement of the Alps. We accept no abstraction what’s in them. About no geological assignment has been done. So we apperceive added about the moon than we apperceive about eastern Tibet It is almost centred at Kathmandu. Alike a baby convulsion could accompany the burghal down, which is congenital on an old lake. As anon as you bear a seismic wave, the debris will alteration and about-face into jelly. Kathmandu is a adversity cat-and-mouse to happen, like the Mexico Burghal earthquake. It wasn’t a big convulsion but it bedfast the burghal because it was congenital on old basin sediment.
You acknowledgment that Burma was a abstemious amid Asia and India, and Kohistan (now in Pakistan) an arc of islands that got awkward in amid by the blow of plates.
According to your book, the Indus River predates the collision, admitting the Ganges is almost young…
Tibet was consistently high, alike afore India collided with Asia. So the Indus, Sutlej, Brahmaputra were all accomplished afore the Himalayas rose. And as the mountains abide to rise, the rivers cut bottomward added into them.
The Ganges is younger. It was accomplished during the acceleration of the Himalayas. We apperceive it was accomplished apparently 35 actor years ago, possibly a little [longer]. It’s now the capital river anterior for clarification the accomplished axial and eastern Himalayas. It takes debris bottomward to the Bay of Bengal. The 20 kilometres of debris actual that is begin adopted from Kolkata has been breakable from the Himalayas.
The advance of rivers has afflicted over time and you advance a archetypal to adumbrate the future. What can we predict?
You address of the sea attic spreading. That is, new acreage actuality created in the Andaman Sea…
You accept additionally advised Mount Kailash…
In the book, you address of several episodes of extortion by Maoists on biking routes in Nepal, best of whom you call as bodies ‘who had no abstraction who Mao Tse-Tung was, or what he stood for’. You additionally address of your interactions with the assorted armies of the countries you formed in. At present, what is the best difficult breadth to assignment as a geologist?
What are the better changing questions about the continental collision?
In the past, accurate breakthroughs had accustomed in the anatomy of the approach of change and continental drift. What, in your opinion, will be the abutting breakthrough?
But for the abundance belts—the Andes, the Himalayas and Tibet—plate tectonics don’t work. Deformations and earthquakes are not belted to the boundaries [of plates], they are occurring all over the place. To accept this, you accept to attending at rocks from the abysmal crust, how they formed over time, how they were active and exhumed. I anticipate the abutting big anarchy is accident appropriate now, in this actual field.
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