Tibetan thermal waters tell about the meeting of continents

The Stanford University He led the research in which the thermal springs of the Himalayas and the Tibetan plateau were evaluated not only for the location of the springs but also for their hydrological composition. A total of 225 hot water sources were sampled and analyzed to paint a picture showing where India ends and Asia begins, at least in a rocky sense, and the formation of the waters showed the deep processes.

“There is an ancient debate among geologists about whether the collision of two continental plates is like a collision in a continental ocean.” Said Simon Klimberer, a research expert at Stanford University, is a professor of geophysics. “The reason for this is that we have very little measurement data and seismic signals don’t provide answers, which is why we turned to geochemistry to take the measurements in a completely different way.”

Klemperer participated in the Tibetan and Indian expeditions for ten years, collected samples of the warm water that erupted to the surface, and used its chemical composition to try to determine what was happening at a depth of 80 to 100 kilometers. Using the isotopic composition of the noble gas, helium, in the water, experts were able to determine whether the water source originated above the colder Indian plate or the hotter Eurasian plate.

Hot water springs originate in the yellow dots on the Eurasian plate, while those marked in blue originate on the Indian plate.

Source: Stanford University

Search results (which are Coming soon in PNAS columns Only in the southern part of the region did spring water come from the Indian plate, that is, geochemical studies refuted the previous theory that India slipped at a small angle under the Eurasian plate. India and Eurasia are still in contact under the Himalayas, but not far to the north, below the Tibetan plateau, and hot rocks from the mantle are crammed into the gap between the two plates.

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“It is amazing that we were able to determine the line between the continents above the rocky plate boundary at a depth of 100 kilometers and with a few kilometers with accuracy,” Klimberer said.

The test results also show that plates, whether encountered in ocean-continental or continental-continental pairs, behave very similarly in both cases. Previously, based on rare data alone, experts believed that when the continental plates met, they would be much closer together. Based on our findings, continental and oceanic plate failures should not be treated as two different processes, but as two slightly different versions of the same process, according to Klimberer.

The theory of plate tectonics, which has become widely accepted since the 1960s, has fundamentally changed our perceptions of rock formation processes on our planet. We’ve understood the cause of many geological phenomena, from mountain formation to earthquakes to volcanic eruptions, but it wasn’t clear why the rocky plates moved and acted exactly as they do. The data just revealed shed light on important details, such as the processes that regulate convective flow in the mantle.

Geological discovery also has economic implications. Since the Spanish conquistadors only discovered the precious metals that the Andes mountain range brought to the surface, we know that there are places where many precious metals can be found. Southern Tibet has recently been uncovered to hide a number of precious metals (such as gold, copper, zinc, and lead) and other metals, but their origin cannot be explained by the ancient continental collision model. However, the associations now revealed indicate that mineral resources are also formed at the confluence of continental plates, similar to subsidence regions of oceanic plates (eg the Andes).

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In addition, the geological processes now taking place in the Indo-Tibet region also show what the future holds for Australia and Indonesia, also in the wake of the collision of the continental plates, which is just beginning.

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