How Himalayas Were Formed


Did you ever wonder how the spectacles of Himalayas were formed? The Himalayas is the tallest mountain range which lies in the territories of Pakistan, India, Nepal and China. It contains the tallest peak of the world, the Mt. Everest that soars up high with 8,848 meters/29,035 feet above sea level.

The Himalayas has eight other peaks aside from Mt. Everest with over 8,000 in height which is called the Eight Thousanders. It is astounding how the Himalayas have exceeded other tallest mountains like the Aconcagua in the Andes. It has also out-shined the older mountain ranges such as the Appalachian in the United States and Aravallis in India.

Formation Of Himalayas

The Himalayas was relatively a young mountain formation in the earth’s surface and remarkably contains the highest peak in the world. The mountain range extends 2,500 kilometers in length and comprised of comparable ridges and folds. The formation of Himalayas has resulted to different assumptions including myths and scientific explanations.

Currently, the accepted theory about that supports its formation was formulated in the year 1912 when Alfred Wagener, a German meteorologist, developed his Theory of Continental Drift. According to this theory, the earth’s crust is composed of several giant plates which are known as tectonic plates. There are continents which lie above these plates and even bodies of water like the ocean.

At one point, the continents are formed as a single mass of land but over a period of time, the continents have drifted away from each other. The single mass of continent is called the Pangea and surrounded by a large ocean. For about 200 million years ago during the Middle Permian Period, the area where Himalayas is situated today was a wide stretch of sea named Tethys. During this time, Pangea slowly began splitting away in various directions and formed into different land masses or continents.

The drifting away resulted to depositing of huge amounts of sediments into the shallow Tethys. This was caused by the rivers from the northern Eurasian land mass and southern Indian land mass. The Eurasian and Indian sub-continent land masses then moved closer to one another which cause the initial build-up process for the Himalayas mountain range. As the two plates or land masses collided, the shallow seabed quickly folded forming into ridges and valleys.

The second phase of mountain building happened 65 million years ago during the Upper Eocene Period. During this time the bed of the Tethys began mounting again. The sea seemed to move back and the seabed was elevated forming into high mountain ranges. During the Middle Miocene Period, about 25 million years ago, another mountain formation happened which resulted to Shivalik ranges.

After this, recurring phases of mountain building occur when Indian plates were pushed against the Eurasian plates. This occurrence made Himalayan ranges to rise higher to what it is today. And it was noted that the last major mountain building phase happened 600,000 years ago.

Although the major rising of Himalayan mountain range has elapsed, it is continuously rising very slowly which is not significantly observable. The Indian plate is constantly moving north for about 2 centimeters per year. And because of this, the Himalayan mountain range remains to be unstable as to its structure and the entire range is constantly moving.

With the active tectonic plates beneath, it is no surprise that the Himalayan region is prone to earthquake and shaking. So with moving tectonic plates in different continents, it is expected that valleys, ridges and mountain ranges can be formed for the next several years.

Aside from Himalayan mountain range, there are other mountain chains that resulted from collision of tectonic plates. Since there is no concrete explanation on the direction and time that these tectonic plates will move, all we can do and expect is to see some of these formations and be in awe how mountains have become nature’s own creation.