New York, April 11 :
In a major find, scientists have determined that parts of Tibetan Plateau, the world’s largest, highest, and flattest plateau, were some 965 km longer than previously documented.
The scientists have determined the elevation history of the southeast margin of the Tibetan Plateau.
“By the ‘Eocene’ epoch (approximately 40 million years ago), the southern part of the plateau extended some 600 miles (965 km) more to the east than previously documented. This discovery upends a popular model for plateau formation,” Gregory Hoke, an assistant professor of earth sciences at Syracuse University, claimed.
The tectonic and topographic evolution of the southeast margin has been the subject of considerable controversy.
“Our study provides the first quantitative estimate of the past elevation of the eastern portions of the plateau,” Hoke said.
Known as the ‘Roof of the World’, the Tibetan Plateau covers more than 970,000 square miles in Asia and India and reaches heights of over 15,000 feet.
The plateau also contains a host of natural resources, including large mineral deposits and tens of thousands of glaciers and is the headwaters of many major drainage basins.
Historically, geologists have thought that lower crustal flow – a process by which hot, ductile rock material flows from high- to low-pressure zones – helped elevate parts of the plateau about 20 million years ago.
But years of studying rock and water samples from the plateau have led Hoke to rethink the area’s history.
Hoke’s discovery not only makes the plateau larger than previously thought, but also suggests that some of the topography is millions of years younger.
“Our data provides the first direct documentation of the magnitude and geographic extent of elevation change on the southeast margin of the Tibetan Plateau, tens of millions years ago,” Hoke added in an article in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters.