Thursday, August 2, 2018

Rips Detected in Earth's Mantle Below Southern Tibet

  According to a new study released by geologists from the University of Illinois, the upper mantle layer of the Indian tectonic plate appears to be torn in four pieces beneath the Tibetan Plateau. This fracture is the product of collision between the Indian and Asian tectonic plates nearly 50 million years ago.
  Using geophysical data collected from various sources, seismic wave tomographic images of Tibet were generated. Through these models, it was found that the intact regions of crust between the tears were strong enough to accumulate strain to generate earthquakes. These crustal areas are exposed to more heat from the mantle, making them more ductile.
  The model also helped to explain some of the deformation patterns observed from the surface, including rifts spanning from north to south. These earthquake locations and deformation patterns posed strong evidence of a strongly coupled crust and upper mantle in southern Tibet.
   “What were previously thought of as unusual locations for some of the intercontinental earthquakes in the southern Tibetan Plateau seem to make more sense now after looking at this model,” said graduate student and co-author Jiangtao Li. “There is a striking correlation with the location of the earthquakes and the orientation of the fragmented Indian upper mantle.”

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