Geological Past of the Himalayas

– By Alex Fokin

The Himalayas are young and still active. Their past is intriguing and breath taking. The long trip of India towards south Asia had created this enormous giant. The history of the collision between present day India and Asia, gives an inside look on how the solid and rigid Indian plate crashed into the soft, sedimentary Asian plate. Now we know that the Himalayas are still growing because of the fascinating new method called Global Positioning System (Global Positioning System 1). This system gives us an exact growth rate of the Himalayas. This active growth comes from uprising of the sedimentary soil, which originally came from Asia, as it was bumped by India. Not only the formation of this gigantic mountains interesting, but also important to scientists and researchers, who try to uncover other mysterious secrets of out planet.

Many years ago, the formation of the Himalayas was unknown to us and eventually researchers became curious to how Himalayas emerged. There are many clues that suggest that India at one time was closer to the equator. Enormous geological powers forced India to move upward towards Asia. The Himalayas were formed when the two huge land masses were pressed together (Smith 39). The gigantic mountains were not yet formed, thirty thousand centuries back in time, when the Eastern European and Western North American ranges had already emerged. At the location of the Himalayas, millions of years ago was an enormous body of water. This was the sea of Tethys (Cameron 10). Today, the highest mountains in the world stretch throughout the southern end of Tibet (Smith 27). The Himalayas were once called the “trenched ranges”, for the ranges spread 1550 miles in sets of corresponding trenches and furrows (Formation 1). Watching from a distance we can see the Himalayas extend about 30,000 feet into the sky (Smith 27).

The history of the Himalayas begins with a legend. At first there was the keeper of the universe, who existed on the land bordering the sea of Tethys. The keeper’s of the universe only company were few sea birds. Every twelve months one of the birds placed her unhatched newborns near the sea, but every time the Sea of Tethys killed the newborns by moving closer to the eggs and destroying them. Finally the birds asked the preserver of the universe to aid them. In response he drank up the sea of Tethys, making land in the place of the Tethys. Later, the preserver of the Universe decided to rest, and during that time, a devil like creature attacked the land that was created from the Sea of Tethys. During this attack, the land was massively transformed into the highest mountain ranges in the world. Scientific findings show that this mythological story isn’t all made up and contains a lot of truth about the intriguing formation of the Himalayas (Cameron 10). Millions of years ago, before India was connected with Asia, our planet was made up of one massive land mass in the northern part of the planet and another huge land mass in the southern area of the planet. In the middle of the two land masses was a deep and enormous sea. The northern land mass eventually separated into two other smaller continents. The southern land mass separated into five smaller continents. Those continents, except one, moved in a period of time to their current locations. The fifth continent, India, slowly moved from the equator towards China and Tibet and eventually crashed into them (Cameron 10). This crash is very slow, but strong. During this so called “pushing” between India and Asia, the sides of the land masses got pushed up against each other with great force. This force literally created the colossal mountain ranges (Mountains 1). Age of the Himalayas The outcome was incredible. When India traveled toward South Asia, it captured some of the volcanic lava from going by a warm area in our planet. At the time when India crashed into China and Tibet, it was mostly made of solid rocks which made Indian land surface rigid. The surface of China and Tibet, on the other hand, was the contrary. It was made up of tender and unstable soil. During the huge crash of India and Asia, the tender and unstable soil was pushed up to form the mighty Himalayas (Cameron 10-11). The South Asian land mass is still drifting towards North Asia at a speed of four centimeters every two years. That’s why the enormous mountains are still growing about a centimeter every two years. From this we can conclude that this highest mountain ranges are still dynamic in their growth (Formation 2). Pushing a cream tube with two fingers, for cream to come out, can properly illustrate the formation of the Himalayas. In this comparison, two fingers are the huge land masses and the cream is the sedimentary soil that make the Himalayas emerge higher and higher. Today, this soft soil is moving higher and higher. The climbers need to hurry conquering the Himalayas that are soon, promising to poke the sky (Cameron 10-11). There are a couple of variables which effected the formation of the Himalayas: bodies of water and climate. The rivers moved toward South from the north, ending at the huge sea which in the later time period became even a bigger body of water. The existence of rivers before the mountains creates a new scenario. When the Himalayas were formed, the rivers dug huge ravines, making their way through. The outcome of the mountains moving as the sun does and the bodies of water drifting from Tibet to India made a complex land surface. The bodies of water that dug in between the Himalayas had created a number of mountain ranges. So we might conclude that Himalayan ranges are so vastly different because of the bodies of water which modified them. This bodies of water or rivers came from rainy weather, or climate (Cameron 11-12). A lot of problems started when India crashed into South Asia, and the Himalayas formation originated. The Himalayas moved the tropical rain clouds upward. That caused the rain clouds to hold the moisture for a longer amount of time. During a period of time, the moisture from the clouds was more available to an area in the middle of the Himalayas. As time passed and Himalayas grew taller and taller, the interior of India received little rainfall. Currently this is still happening. In the South, the mountains are a benefit, bringing large amounts of rain. In the North, the mountains are a drawback, literally stopping the clouds from releasing the needed rain (Cameron 13).Formation of the Himalayas

There is a lot of visual evidence that can be seen while examining the Himalayan mountain ranges. Many mountain ranges feature evident creasing around their sides. The sides begin bending around the bottom and lean against highest crests of the mountain. The sides are soft and that implies that their location was somewhere near a body of water. Also, researchers discovered a number of fossilized sea creatures near the northern part of India. This creatures were formed with a hard outer layer on their bodies. During the formation of the Himalayas, the “Ammonites” lost their natural habitat, or a body of water and became extinct. The discovery of the sea creatures leads us to the conclusion that there was a body of water in the place of the colossal mountains of India (Evidence 1). There are many finding of soft rocks, near the highest peaks of the Himalayas, that were created below a body of water. There are many mountain ranges that still deposit such rocks. This finding verifies the hypothesis of a huge collision of soft edged South Asia and, in contrast, rigid and hard North India (Evidence 3).Visual Evidence

Today, researchers are able to detect the drifting of land masses and the growth of the highest mountains in the world by using a special method. This same technique is used world wide by sea and air transportation as a tool to detect their location. Over years this system had improved greatly. The Global Positioning System first requires for researchers to place a number of data receivers all over the mountain ranges. Every data recorder verifies its location to a main data bank which is located in space. The measurements that are taken are used to detect almost an exact mountain growth rate. With the help of this method, we now know that the enormous mountains are still active and move on centimeter upward every two years (Global Positioning System 1).Global Positioning System

That, in brief summary are the gigantic Himalayas that were formed as two huge land masses were pressed together. When different Himalayan ranges are compared, we can pin point some likenesses. Himalayan ranges are all sophomoric, all share interesting structure and peaks that penetrate the sky. The mountain ranges that oppose the North, are filled with paradise-like environment and wonderful plant and animal life. The ranges that oppose the South, are dull, dry and dreadful, unlike the flourishing Southern ranges. Every mountain range of the Himalayas is complex in it’s own way, having almost it own different and unique personality. (Cameron 13).Age of the Himalayas


Cameron, Ian. Mountains Of The God. New York: Facts on File, 1984. (8)

“Formation Of The Himalayas.” 11 pars. Netscape Navigator. Internet. 4 December 1997(2)

“Global Positioning.” 3 pars. Netscape Navigator. Internet. 4 December 1997.(2)

Smith, Howard. The Unexplored World. New York: Doubleday & Company, 1976 (3)

“Mountains.” 1 par. Netscape Navigator. Internet, 4 December 1997.(1)

“Visual Evidence.” 7 pars. Netscape Navigator. Internet. 4 December 1997.(2)

 Geological Past of the Himalayas

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