Indo-Asian Collision Zone Project

Indo-Asian Home  |  People  |  Data  |  Outreach  |  Publications  |  Links

Building the Himalayan Mountains

How were the Himalaya built? TO scientists and collaborators are "peeling back the layers" to see how these mountains are put together and to figure out what happened, millions of years ago, to make what we see today.

Did two continents collide and crinkle in an accordian-like fashion? Did one continent get pulled under another?

We are studying how deformation of Earth's crust has lead to the present structure and topography of the Himalaya.

We use thermochronolgy techniques to determine the cooling history of rocks as they are incorporated into the Himalaya and later on exhumed.

We have documented how the Himalaya has resulted from a gradual transfer of thrust sheets peeled away from the Indian crust and accreted onto the Eurasian continent (e.g., Herman et al., 2010; Bollinger et al., 2007).

This model is consistent with current deformation in the Himalaya, as determined from geomorphology and geodesy (see Earthquakes and Crustal Deformation in the Himalaya). It explains well the current topography of the Himalaya and shows some balance bewteen uplift and erosion of the range.


Herman, F., et al. (2010), Exhumation, crustal deformation, and thermal structure of the Nepal Himalaya derived from the inversion of thermochronological and thermobarometric data and modeling of the topography, J. Geophys. Res., 115, B06407, doi:10.1029/2008JB006126

Bollinger, L., F. Perrier, J.-P. Avouac, S. Sapkota, U. Gautam, and D. R. Tiwari (2007), Seasonal modulation of seismicity in the Himalaya of Nepal, Geophys. Res. Lett., 34, L08304, doi:10.1029/ 2006GL029192


© Tectonics Observatory :: California Institute of Technology
Last updated: June 29, 2012 :: Contact Us


Tectonics Observatory