The Himalaya ‘breathes,’ with mountains growing and shrinking in cycles
Deciphering these geologic respirations can help scientists untangle earthquake risks and pin down the range’s deadly potential.
If we could put our planetary clock on fast forward, Earth’s surface would writhe with activity. Continents would scurry across the globe, oceans would open and close, and new mountains would shoot up toward the sky.
Yet even as mountains rise, they also periodically sink back down when the stress from tectonic collisions triggers earthquakes. These events happen in a cycle, like the chest of a rocky behemoth drawing uneven breaths, explains Luca Dal Zilio, a geophysicist at the California Institute of Technology.
The forces driving this cycle are incredibly complex, and nowhere is that more evident than in the 1,400 miles of jagged peaks that make up the Himalaya. Nailing down the fundamentals underlying this range is vital to