Another paper on Project INDEPTH published in NATURE journals
A paper entitled ‘Tibetan plate overriding the Asian plate in central and northern Tibet’ with Academician Zhao Wenjin as the first author was published online on October 30, 2011 in Nature Geoscience, a monthly peer reviewed scientific journal published by Nature Publishing Group (NPG).
The research article dwells upon the new results from the study of lithosphere in the northern part of Tibetan Plateau conducted by an international team of scientists from China, Germany and the United States, who have long been involved in the International Deep Profiling of Tibet and the Himalaya Project (Project INDEPTH). The results were obtained by integrated interpretations of seismic data sets which had been sampled by broad band seismometers network deployed in the area from the southern part of Jinsha Suture to the northern part of Qaidam basin and processed with the P and S wave receiver functions technique. The authors detect that beneath the central and northern Tibet, a relatively thin but separate Tibetan lithosphere overrides the flat southward subducting Asian lithosphere and suggest that this overriding Tibetan lithosphere helps to accommodate the convergence between India and Asia in central and northern Tibet. The paper concludes 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.
Since 1991 when it was launched, the Project INDEPTH has accomplished profound scientific work in the southern part of the Tibetan Plateau. In 1993, a paper entitled “Deep seismic reflection evidence for continental underthrusting beneath southern Tibet” was published in NATURE (Wenjin Zhao, D. K. Nelson and other members of the Project INDEPTH team, Nature 366, 557 – 559, 09 December 1993). Based on the observations obtained in INDEPTH I, the paper reports the first results from an attempt to image the structure of the crust beneath this region using deep seismic reflection profiling. These results lend substantial support to the view that crustal thickening beneath southernmost Tibet was accomplished by wholesale underthrusting of Indian continental crust beneath the structurally imbricated upper crust comprising the Tethyan Himalaya.
In the past 20 years, 15 papers related to Project INDEPTH have been published in NATURE Journals or SCIENCE Magazine. On November 15, 2011 members of the Project team gathered in Beijing to hold a workshop to mark the 20th anniversary of this international cooperative project.
The paper was submitted to NATURE editors in March, and accepted in October. The German colleagues have contributed a lot to its publication. In addition to Academician Zhao Wenjin, the first author, its authorship includes Prakash Kumar, James Mechie, Rainer Kind, Rolf Meissner, Zhenhan Wu, Danian Shi, Heping Su, Guangqi Xue, Marianne Karplus and Frederik Tilmann.