Research Highlight

Separate Tibetan lithospere

doi:10.1038/nindia.2011.156 Published online 31 October 2011

Researchers have detected a thin and separate Tibetan lithosphere that overrides the flat Asian lithosphere. This Tibetan lithosphere lies beneath central and northern Tibet.

The international team of researchers suggest that this overriding Tibetan lithosphere helps to accommodate the convergence between India and Asia in central and northern Tibet.

"We conclude that the Tibetan–Himalayan system is composed of three major parts: the Indian, Asian and Tibetan lithospheres. In the south, the Indian lithosphere underthrusts Tibet. In central and northern Tibet a separate, thin Tibetan lithosphere exists, which is underthrust by the Asian lithosphere from the north," the researches say.

The southern boundary between India and the Tibetan Plateau represents a classical case of continental subduction, where the Indian continental lithosphere is subducted northwards beneath the Tibetan Plateau.

The researchers analysed the plate tectonic structure of the northern boundary between Tibet and Asia using the S receiver function technique. The data was drawn largely from the International Deep Profiling of Tibet and the Himalaya project.


  1. Zhao, W. et al. Tibetan plate overriding the Asian plate in central and northern Tibet. Nat. Geosci. doi: 10.1038/ngeo1309 (2011)