It is true that millions of years ago there was an ocean in the area now occupied by the Himalayan mountain range?

There indeed was, and geologists named it Tethys, after the sea-Goddess of Greek mythology. According to the notion put forward by German meteorologist Alfred Wegener in 1915, all continents were once fused together into one supercontinent called Pangaea, about 220 million years ago. It was thickly forested and had warm climate. Later, due to powerful lava currents beneath it, Pangaea split into huge continental masses. Laurasia, as it is now known, was the northern part and Gondwanaland was the southern land mass. Laurasia drifted northwards and broke into fragments like North America, Greenland, Europe and Asia. In the same way the southern continent Gondwanaland was divided into Africa, South America, Antarctica and Australia. Then 65 millions years ago, Indian plate broke off from Africa and moved north on a collision course with Asia which, in geological terms is known as Eurasian plate. Drifting at the rate of about 15 centimeters per year, the Indian plate eventually bumped against the Eurasian plate about 45 million years ago. The ocean vanished as the Indian plate dived beneath the mighty northern plate – a process known as subduction. The seafloor began to rise and the Tethys Ocean vanished as it made way for hundreds of jagged peaks of the Himalayan.

About 2,400 kilometers long Himalayan range came into being. As the subduction continued, the 4,875 meters high Tibetan plateau was created behind the mountains. The geological drama hasn’t come to an end as yet. The Indian plate persists in northward advance, though rather slowly, and Everest is still growing at the rate of about 1 centimeter per year. Meanwhile, all that remains of the ocean Tethys are marine fossils embedded in the mountain rocks.

More reading:
Tethys Ocean (Wikipedia)
Himalayas (Wikipedia)

Related post(s):

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *