Research Highlight

Monsoon lift for the Himalayas

doi:10.1038/nindia.2008.315 Published online 10 November 2008

The onset of the most intense phase of uplift in the Himalaya may have been triggered by a simultaneous strengthening of the Asian monsoons, according to a new study1.

Deformation and erosion of the Himalaya began around 50 million years ago, causing the mountain range to rise, but these processes accelerated much later. Geoscientists from the UK, USA and Germany have now integrated various types of data on the onset of intensification of both the Himalayan uplift and the Asian monsoons.

Their results suggest that both these processes occurred at more or less at the same time, around 23 million years ago. The data also suggests that increased erosion caused by the stronger monsoons may have contributed to the uplift of the Himalaya.

The team has presented weathering records from the South China Sea, Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea that permit Asian monsoon climate to be reconstructed back to the earliest Neogene. These indicate a correlation between the rate of Himalayan exhumation and monsoon intensity over the past 23 million years.

The authors of this study are from: Department of Geology and Petroleum Geology, University of Aberdeen, UK; School of Earth and Space Exploration, Arizona State University, Arizona, USA; F.B. Geowissenschaften, Universit├Ąt Bremen, Klagenfurter Strasse, Bremen, Germany and Department of Chemistry and Physics, Arkansas State University, State University, Arkansas, USA.


  1. Clift, P. D. et al. Correlation of Himalayan exhumation rates and Asian monsoon intensity. Nat. Geosci. doi: 10.1038/ngeo351 (2008)