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 Seabed mining could destroy ecosystems
23.01.2018 | University of Exeter

nachricht How climate change weakens coral 'immune systems'
23.01.2018 | Ohio State University

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Optical Nanoscope Allows Imaging of Quantum Dots

Physicists have developed a technique based on optical microscopy that can be used to create images of atoms on the nanoscale. In particular, the new method allows the imaging of quantum dots in a semiconductor chip. Together with colleagues from the University of Bochum, scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute reported the findings in the journal Nature Photonics.

Microscopes allow us to see structures that are otherwise invisible to the human eye. However, conventional optical microscopes cannot be used to image...

Im Focus: Artificial agent designs quantum experiments

On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.

We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rutgers scientists discover 'Legos of life'

23.01.2018 | Life Sciences

Seabed mining could destroy ecosystems

23.01.2018 | Earth Sciences

Transportable laser

23.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>