Collision between India and Asia, which led the nation to become part of the continent, took place 40 million years ago instead of the previous estimate of 50 million years, MIT researchers have said in a study.
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have found evidence that suggests that India joined with Asia 10 million years later than previously thought and India’s size before the collision was much smaller than assumed.
The peaks of the Himalayas are a remnant of tectonic forces that fused India with Asia tens of millions of years ago.
Previous estimates have suggested that the collision occurred about 50 million years ago, as India, moving northward at a rapid pace, crushed up against Eurasia. The zone between the two plates gave rise to the Himalayas.
The scientists analysed the composition of rocks from two regions in the Himalayas and discovered evidence of two separate collisional events.
As India crept steadily northward, it first collided with a string of islands 50 million years ago, before plowing into the Eurasian continental plate 10 million years later, the MIT researchers said.
Assistant professor of geology in MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences Oliver Jagoutz said the results change the timeline for a well-known tectonic story.
“India came running full speed at Asia and boom, they collided,” Jagoutz, an author of the paper, said. “But we actually don’t think it was one collision...this changes dramatically the way we think India works,” Jagoutz said.
He said the group’s findings may change scientists’ ideas about the size of India before it collided with Asia.