If you have read in your school books about the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau, then make a radical change of what still persists in your mind — the Tibetan Plateau is found to have already been a high desert perhaps 80 million years ago, and thus is not a byproduct of the Himalayas! It is because; this period is long before the period when the Indian Plate crashed into Eurasia to build the planet’s highest mountain range.
This is what a rare look at the rocks in the Nima basin, located in the middle of the plateau revealed. The study revealing it is based on field work in the Earth’s highest and driest region.
Though the rocks kept the records of sand dunes, dry lakes and braided seasonal streams embedded in it, featuring the region being a desert in ancient times, to find if it was a high or low desert, the researchers used a new technique.
To find the location of the desert from sea level, the experts used ‘oxygen isotopes’ found in certain minerals. These isotopes reveal that it was even just 26 million years ago, the Tibetan Plateau was already more than 16,000 feet above sea level!
Tibetan Plateau researcher Brad Ritts of Indiana University in Bloomington said,
They are strongly implying that a lot of the thickening (of the crust to make it higher) happened earlier.
But, the question now may arise in your mind on how the Tibetan Plateau get so high so early! To find an answer to this, read here…