Tectonics of the Himalaya and Southern Tibet from two perspectives

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1181 Scopus citations


The Himalaya and Tibet provide an unparalleled opportunity to examine the complex ways in which continents respond to collisional orogenesis. This paper is an attempt to synthesize the known geology of this orogenic system, with special attention paid to the tectonic evolution of the Himalaya and southernmost Tibet since India-Eurasia collision at ca. 50 Ma. Two alternative perspectives are developed. The first is largely historical. It includes brief (and necessarily subjective) reviews of the tectonic stratigraphy, the structural geology, and metamorphic geology of the Himalaya. The second focuses on the processes that dictate the behavior of the orogenic system today. It is argued that these processes have not changed substantially over the Miocene-Holocene interval, which suggests that the orogen has achieved a quasi-steady state. This condition implies a rough balance between plate-tectonic processes that lead to the accumulation of energy in the orogen and many other processes (e.g., erosion of the Himalayan front and the lateral flow of the middle and lower crust of Tibet) that lead to the dissipation of energy. The tectonics of the Himalaya and Tibet are thus intimately related; the Himalaya might have evolved very differently had the Tibetan Plateau never have formed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)324-350
Number of pages27
JournalBulletin of the Geological Society of America
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Asia
  • Himalaya
  • India
  • Mountain building
  • Orogenic belts
  • Tectonics
  • Tibet

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology


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