Surprising! India's landmass is shrinking yearly by 2 mm, right here's why | – Occasions of India

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India is without doubt one of the largest and most populous nations on the planet, with a complete space of about 3.28 million sq. kilometers. Nonetheless, this space just isn’t fixed, however relatively lowering at a fee of two mm per 12 months. Which means that India is shedding about 6.56 sq. kilometers of its landmass yearly, which is equal to the dimensions of 910 soccer fields.However, what’s inflicting this shrinkage and what are its implications for the long run?
The reply lies within the motion of the tectonic plates, the enormous items of the Earth’s crust that float on the mantle, the layer beneath the crust. India is situated on the Indian plate, which is transferring northward at a velocity of about 5 cm per 12 months. This plate is colliding with the Eurasian plate, which carries most of Asia and Europe. This collision, which has been occurring for tens of millions of years, is accountable for the formation and progress of the Himalayan mountains, the best on the planet. The Himalayas are nonetheless rising by about 1 cm per 12 months, because the Indian plate pushes in opposition to the Eurasian plate.

The Himalayas proceed to get taller by 1 cm yearly because the tectonic plates proceed to shift and merge. Supply: Canva

Nonetheless, this collision additionally signifies that India’s landmass is getting squeezed and deformed because it pushes in opposition to the inflexible Eurasian plate. The Indian plate just isn’t flat however curved, and because it slides beneath the Eurasian plate, it bends and buckles. This creates pressure and stress within the crust, which could be measured by satellite-based knowledge and international positioning system (GPS) stations throughout India and its neighboring areas. Scientists and seismologists have discovered that the space between totally different factors in India and Tibet is lowering yearly, indicating that the crust is beneath compression. For instance, the space between Mussoorie and Badrinath within the western Himalayas is now 1.5 cm much less and lowering yearly. Equally, the space between Bangalore and Lhasa in Tibet can also be 4 cm shorter.

tectonic plate shift

A graphic illustration of how the tectonic plate shift is going on within the Indian landmass. Supply: NASA

This motion of the Indian plate has important implications for seismic hazards and future earthquakes within the area. The Himalayas are nonetheless younger and lively, and as they develop taller, additionally they break up into layers on the floor. These layers can slide previous one another, creating faults and fractures. The Indian plate can also be peeling off or delaminating, which means that its decrease half is detaching from the higher half and sinking into the mantle. This creates anomalous alerts of helium isotopes within the Tibetan springs, which point out the depth and extent of the delamination.
The delamination of the Indian plate is totally different from the rifting of the African plate, which is resulting in the formation of a brand new ocean and a brand new microcontinent in East Africa. The rifting is brought on by the stretching and thinning of the crust, whereas the delamination is brought on by the compression and thickening of the crust. Each processes, nonetheless, outcome within the discount of the landmass of the respective continents.
The long-term penalties of the shrinking of India’s landmass are laborious to foretell, however some scientists have speculated that after 200 million years, there could be no India, solely an unlimited mountain vary alongside the southern coast of China. Whereas this will likely seem to be a distant and unlikely state of affairs, the instant fear is the upcoming quakes that will outcome from the buildup of pressure and stress within the crust. The Himalayan area is without doubt one of the most seismically lively zones on the planet and it has witnessed a number of devastating earthquakes up to now. The latest evaluation of the motion of the Indian plate means that the danger of such earthquakes continues to be excessive and that the folks residing within the area ought to be ready for the worst.

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