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Solving the Mystery of the Tibetan Plateau

[WTN-L World Tibet Network News. Published by The Canada Tibet Committee. Issue ID: 05/11/04; November 4, 2005.]

EDMONTON, Alberta, Nov. 3 (UPI) -- A University of Alberta physicist who helped solve the mystery of how the Tibetan Plateau became so elevated is still uncovering information about the region.

Several years ago Dr. Martyn Unsworth and a team of scientists from China and the United States used low-frequency radio waves to discover the mid-crust of the plateau is like "a big waterbed." The hot, molten rocks supporting the plateau are less dense than cold rocks, which means they slowly rise. That discovery provides an explanation for how the whole of Tibet might rise over millions and millions of years.

Unsworth has since learned that geological makeup is typical of the whole length of the Himalaya, not just a small region.

Dubbed "the roof of the world," the plateau contains not just Mount Everest, but nearly all of Earth's territory higher than 13,125 feet. The area, formed when India rammed into Asia about 50 million years ago, is considered a showcase of plate tectonics. Unsworth's latest findings appear in the current edition of the scientific journal Nature.


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