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Volume 31 Issue 8 (August 2021)

GSA Today

Article, pp. 4-10 | Full Text | PDF

Active Uplift of Southern Tibet Revealed

Michael Taylor*

Dept. of Geology, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas 66045, USA

Adam Forte

Dept. of Geology and Geophysics, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70803, USA

Andrew Laskowski

Dept. of Earth Sciences, Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana 59717, USA

Lin Ding

Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China


North of the Himalayas is the Tibetan plateau—the largest physiographic feature on Earth related to intercontinental collision. Here, we study the rugged Gangdese Range along the southern drainage divide of the Tibetan plateau using a synthesis of geologic, thermochronologic, and interseismic geodetic observations that reveal that southern Tibet’s Gangdese Range is undergoing active surface uplift at present-day rates rivaling the Himalaya. Uplift has likely been sustained since the early Miocene, and we hypothesize that surface uplift of the Gangdese Mountains led to the development of Tibet’s internally drained plateau, as well as potentially reversed the course of the paleo Yarlung River, in tandem with exhumation of the Himalayan gneiss domes. We suggest the data are consistent with active thrust duplexing, balanced by upper crustal extension, effectively extending the active décollement between the underthrusting Indian plate and the Eurasian upper plate more than 200 km north of the High Himalayas.

* Corresponding author: mht@ku.edu

Manuscript received 3 Dec. 2020. Revised manuscript received 15 May 2021. Manuscript accepted 15 May 2021. Posted 21 June 2021.

© The Geological Society of America, 2021. CC-BY-NC.


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