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India-Asia collision and the Cenozoic slowdown of the Indian plate: Implications for the forces driving plate motions

Copley, Alex and Avouac, Jean-Philippe and Royer, Jean-Yves (2010) India-Asia collision and the Cenozoic slowdown of the Indian plate: Implications for the forces driving plate motions. Journal of Geophysical Research B, 115 (B3). Art. No. B03410. ISSN 0148-0227. doi:10.1029/2009JB006634.

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The plate motion of India changed dramatically between 50 and 35 Ma, with the rate of convergence between India and Asia dropping from ~15 to ~4 cm/yr. This change is coincident with the onset of the India-Asia collision, and with a rearrangement of plate boundaries in the Indian Ocean. On the basis of a simple model for the forces exerted upon the edges of the plate and the tractions on the base of the plate, we perform force balance calculations for the precollision and postcollision configurations. We show that the observed Euler poles for the Indian plate are well explained in terms of their locations and magnitudes if (1) the resistive force induced by mountain building in the Himalaya-Tibet area is ~5–6 × 10^(12) N/m, (2) the net force exerted upon the Indian plate by subduction zones is similar in magnitude to the ridge-push force (~2.5 × 10^(12) N/m), and (3) basal tractions exert a resisting force that is linearly proportional to the plate velocity in the hot spot reference frame. The third point implies an asthenospheric viscosity of ~2–5 × 10^(19) Pa s, assuming a thickness of 100–150 km. Synthetic Euler poles show that crustal thickening in the Tibetan Plateau was the dominant cause of the Cenozoic slowdown of the Indian plate.

Item Type:Article
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Avouac, Jean-Philippe0000-0002-3060-8442
Additional Information:© 2010 American Geophysical Union. Received 21 May 2009; accepted 25 September 2009; published 17 March 2010. We thank the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation for financial support. This is Caltech Tectonics Observatory contribution 121. C. DeMets and one anonymous reviewer provided useful comments on the manuscript. The figures were produced using the Generic Mapping Tools (GMT) [Wessel and Smith, 1995].
Group:Caltech Tectonics Observatory, Caltech Tectonics Observatory. Indo-Asian Collision Zone, Seismological Laboratory
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Gordon and Betty Moore FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:Indian Plate; plate driving foces; Tibetan Plateau; tectonophysics: plate motions: general; tectonophysics: rheology: general; tectonophysics: dynamics: gravity and tectonics
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Other Numbering System NameOther Numbering System ID
Caltech Tectonics Observatory121
Issue or Number:B3
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20100413-094606252
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Official Citation:Copley, A., J.-P. Avouac, and J.-Y. Royer (2010), India-Asia collision and the Cenozoic slowdown of the Indian plate: Implications for the forces driving plate motions, J. Geophys. Res., 115, B03410, doi:10.1029/2009JB006634.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:17952
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:05 May 2010 02:09
Last Modified:08 Nov 2021 23:40

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