Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Geologists find a new active fault in Nepal

21.04.2005


Potentially links climate with mountain building



A Dartmouth researcher is part of a team that has discovered a new active "thrust fault" at the base of the Himalaya in Nepal. This new fault likely accommodates some of the subterranean pressure caused by the continuing collision of the Indian subcontinent with Asia.

The study, titled "Active out-of-sequence thrust faulting in the central Nepalese Himalaya," will be published in the April 21 issue of the journal Nature.


"This work tackles one of the fundamental questions in my field," says Arjun Heimsath, Assistant Professor of Earth Sciences and an author on the paper. "We are trying to determine whether climate is driving erosion, which may in turn impact tectonics, or whether tectonic forces drive erosion that subsequently influences climate. It’s sometimes called the classic chicken-or-egg problem in geomorphology."

The researchers argue that this evidence quantifies a connection between erosion rates and tectonic forces, which might lead to a new understanding of how the growth of the Himalaya plays a role in global climate change. The new fault is found in an area where there is a dramatic change in the structure of the landscape, and it’s in a region where the rainfall and erosion rates are among the highest in the world.

Heimsath explains that as India continues to collide with Asia, the Himalayan Mountain Range grows a centimeter or more each year, and then the monsoons help bring about the erosion of the same mountains. The new active fault is at the base of the Great Himalaya in Central Nepal, about 60 miles from Kathmandu. Here, the landscape changes from low relief and gently sloping hills to steep, high mountains, and the researchers discovered that the erosion rates increase by a factor of four with the transition in topography.

"We used two different techniques of dating minerals in sediments to determine erosion rates spanning the last several thousand years as well as several million years," he says. "There was corroboration over drastically different time scales of erosion rates from several watersheds, suggesting a close connection between erosion and tectonics."

Heimsath and colleagues speculate that there may be some sort of feedback mechanism between erosion and tectonic movement, which might help reduce the potential energy accumulated by the uplift of the Himalaya and the formation of the Tibetan plateau, a vast region where the mean elevation is over 16,000 feet.

"The incredible mass of this uplifted plateau is struggling for someplace to go, and it’s possible that focused erosion processes, which remove material at a high rate along the base of the Himalaya, are enabling a reduction in this accumulated potential energy. It’s a continent-sized physics problem," he says.

Heimsath’s coauthors on this study are Cameron Wobus, Kelin Whipple and Kip Hodges, all in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Wobus, a current PhD student, is a former graduate student at Dartmouth.

Sue Knapp | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.dartmouth.edu

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht In times of climate change: What a lake’s colour can tell about its condition
21.09.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)

nachricht Did marine sponges trigger the ‘Cambrian explosion’ through ‘ecosystem engineering’?
21.09.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum Potsdam - Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum GFZ

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

Im Focus: Fast, convenient & standardized: New lab innovation for automated tissue engineering & drug

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Comet or asteroid? Hubble discovers that a unique object is a binary

21.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Cnidarians remotely control bacteria

21.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Monitoring the heart's mitochondria to predict cardiac arrest?

21.09.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>