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Evidence for mechanical coupling and strong Indian lower crust beneath southern Tibet

Copley, Alex and Avouac, Jean-Philippe and Wernicke, Brian P. (2011) Evidence for mechanical coupling and strong Indian lower crust beneath southern Tibet. Nature, 472 (7341). pp. 79-81. ISSN 0028-0836. doi:10.1038/nature09926.

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How surface deformation within mountain ranges relates to tectonic processes at depth is not well understood. The upper crust of the Tibetan Plateau is generally thought to be poorly coupled to the underthrusting Indian crust because of an intervening low-viscosity channel. Here, however, we show that the contrast in tectonic regime between primarily strike-slip faulting in northern Tibet and dominantly normal faulting in southern Tibet requires mechanical coupling between the upper crust of southern Tibet and the underthrusting Indian crust. Such coupling is inconsistent with the presence of active ‘channel flow’ beneath southern Tibet, and suggests that the Indian crust retains its strength as it underthrusts the plateau. These results shed new light on the debates regarding the mechanical properties of the continental lithosphere, and the deformation of Tibet.

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Avouac, Jean-Philippe0000-0002-3060-8442
Wernicke, Brian P.0000-0002-7659-8358
Additional Information:© 2011 Nature Publishing Group, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited. Received 24 September 2010; accepted 10 February 2011. Published online06 April 2011. We thank the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation for support through the Caltech Tectonics Observatory, and Pembroke College in the University of Cambridge for financial support to A.C. This work benefited from a review by L. Flesch. This is Caltech Tectonics Observatory contribution number 145. Author Contributions: A.C. performed the calculations, A.C., J.-P.A. and B.W. discussed the results, and A.C. and J.-P.A. wrote the manuscript.
Group:Caltech Tectonics Observatory, Seismological Laboratory
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Gordon and Betty Moore FoundationUNSPECIFIED
University of Cambridge Pembroke CollegeUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:Geology and geophysics; Earth science
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Caltech Tectonics Observatory145
Issue or Number:7341
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20110415-142614838
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:23347
Deposited On:18 Apr 2011 16:32
Last Modified:09 Nov 2021 16:13

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