Space View of Himalayas
(Photo from NASA)
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A Magnificent Monument of Nature
Being the world's highest mountain chain, the Himalayas is characterized by its great height, complex geologic structure, snowcapped peaks, large valley glaciers, deep river gorges, and rich vegetation.
Himalayas is a magnificent monument on the Earth. It represents the awe-inspiring power, beauty, and grandeur of Nature. It constitutes the greatest attraction to adventurers, climbers and trekkers throughout the world.
The Himalayas extend from west to east for about 2,500 km in a curve, from the Pamit Knot in the northwest to the valley of the Brahmaputra River in the east. And with a width of 100 - 400 km. The Himalayas range covering an area of 612,021 sq. km.
It passes through Nepal, Indian (5 States: Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Sikkim), China (Tibet), Bhutan and Pakistan.
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The Himalayas are divided into several parallel ranges from south to north:
- Sub Himalayas. (With an average altitude of 900 - 1,200 meters.)
- Lower Himalayas. (With an average altitude of 3,700 meters.)
- Great Himalayas. (A single range rising above 6,000 meters with nine of the 14 highest peaks in the world, including Mt Everest.)
- Tibetan Himalayas. (Tibet Plateau, with an average altitude 4,000 - 4,5900 meters, well known as the Roof of the World.)
The Karakoram Range in the northwest is also sometimes considered as part of the Himalayas system.
The Himalayas are relatively young folded mountains. According the Theory of Continental Drift, there were several phases in the genesis history of the Himalayas:
About 250 million years ago, there was a single super continent (Pangea) on Earth. It was surrounded by a large ocean.
About 200 million years ago, the super continent (Pangea) started to split into different land masses and moved apart. An extensive sea (Tethys) stretched along the latitudinal area presently occupied by the Himalayas.
The two land masses, the Eurasian (Angara) and the Indian sub-continent (Gondwana) moved closer and closer, then the collision happened and uplifted the highest & youngest mountain ranges on the Earth.
There were several phases in the Himalayas building process:
Phase I - Upper Cretaceous Period. About 70 million years ago, when the Gondwana plate and Angara plate began to converge and collide. The sea-bed was folded and raised into longitudinal ridges and valleys.
Phase II - Upper Eocene Period. About 65 million years ago, the collision was much more powerful. The Tethys bed was raised high enough to cause the final retreat of the sea and its sedimentary deposits were elevated into mountain ranges and intervening basins into large river valleys. The Great and Tibetan Himalayas were uplifted.
Phase III - Middle Miocene Period. About 25 million years ago, the Lower Himalayas were formed.
Phase IV - About 2 million years ago, the fourth Himalayan paroxysm occurred. Along with further elevation of the Himalayas ranges, compression forces squeezed and pushed southwards, The Sub Himalayas also raised and folded.
Phase V - Only 600,000 years ago, the final phase more or less determined the present geomorphic form of the Himalayan system.
However the India Plate continuously moving north at the rate of about 2 cm per year. The Himalayas are still geologically active and structurally unstable. For this reason, earthquakes are a frequent occurrence in the entire Himalayan region.
The Himalayas region is an important model for
the study of geology and continents tectonics.
|True color image draped over surface topography of the Earth||Himalayas (white) divided the Tibet (World's Roof) and the India sub-continent. The growth of dense vegetation (darker greens) in the true color image.||High concentration of water vapor, or humidity, appeared just south of the Himalayas.|
|The lush landscape attracts about a billion people reside there. indicated by the reds and yellows in this false-color image.||industries produce a thick layer of haze, or aerosol particles (brown),||High levels of carbon monoxide (reds and yellows,) But these pollutants were not allowed to spread northward to the Tibetan Plateau.|
The Himalayas range is the originate of numerous glaciers and many important rivers in Asia.
There is great variation in the Himalayan soils. The dark brown soils are well suited for growing fruit trees. The wet, deep, upland soils with high humus content are good for growing tea. Himalayan vegetation is based on altitude and rainfall and can be classified into four groups:
Tropical zone - Up to 1,000 - 1,200 m (3,280 to 3,940 ft) . Tropical ever green forests, Rose, chestnut, bamboo, alder, pine, laurel, and palm etc.
Subtropical zone - Up to 2,200 m (7,220 ft). Deciduous forest with sal, oak, and magnolia temperate forests of cedar, birch, hazel, maple, and spruce
Alpine zone - 2,200 to 2,700 m ( 7,220 to 8,860
ft ). With juniper, rhododendron, mosses, lichens etc
Several kinds of flowering plants are found from 2,700 to 3,600 m (8,860 - 11,800 ft). Alpine meadows are found up to 5,000 m (16,400 feet).
Elephants, bison, and rhinoceroses inhabit the
forested lower slopes of the Outer Himalayas.
The snow leopard, brown bear, red panda, and
The black bear, languor monkey, clouded leopard, and goat antelope live in the foothills. Tibetan yak are living above the tree line--above 3,050 m (10,000 ft).
Endangered animal species, such as the rhinoceros, musk deer, and Kashmir stag, or hangul are now under protection.
There are catfish in most Himalayan streams, and butterflies are extremely varied and beautiful.
While one are enjoying the miracle of the Nature, one must not forget how to protect the vulnerable ecosystem of the Himalayas.
Mt. EverestThe Himalayas is the world's highest mountain range comprising all top ten of the world's highest peaks. In fact, the Himalayas includes 14 peaks more than 8,000 meters high and some 200 more than 6000 meters.
Listed here are the panoramic sequence from East to West of over 7,000 meters major peaks in Himalayas :
NAMCHA BARWA HIMAL
Namcha Barwa - 7,782m (25,531ft)
Jailabaili Feng - 7,151 (23,460ft)
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