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The Himalayan Mountains: How They Formed

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 Geography   |   Geology   |   Science
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This is the story of how India broke free from Africa to form the tallest mountains in the world.


Huge thanks to Leonardo Parreira GATU Portuguese Translation/Subtitles/CC !

Right now I'm almost 3,000 meters high up in the Himalayas or Hamalayas - depending on where you're from. I'm Kurtis Baute and this is the Scope of Science and today I want to talk about the Himalaya Mountains which you can't really see because right now I'm literally in a cloud - that's how high up we are and we're not even nearly the full height of the Himalayas. Mt. Everest is over 800 - sorry 8,000 and 800 meters high.

It's raining again but that's what it's like in a cloud hopefully at some point we'll get a clearer view because right now you can just see some trees and things. The Himalayas have a really interesting story that starts about 130 million years ago back when India was still connected to Africa before the continents started to drift because at around that time it broke off from the rest of Africa and started to drift upwards the tectonic plate was drifting "northly" (? woops!) and eventually, after the extinction of the dinosaurs around 65 million years ago, 45 million years ago it hit the Eurasian continent hit the rest of Asia and that collision caused the Himalayas to form.

Now when the plates collided the Indian continent the India plate went beneath the Eurasian plate - we say it's subducted - and that's because it was denser but as it went beneath the eurasian plate both of the plates had a lot of rock between them that kind of got squeezed up and that rock that's been squeezed up is the Himalayas. That's this mountain range. And so there's lots of neat features hopefully I'll be able to point them out along this height we're doing a two-day hike I say we because I came to India to visit my sister and my brother-in-law who live in Delhi and we're on a little adventure here for a couple days actually I was just taking a nap in the tent and a bunch of goats woke me up they passed through and bumped into my tent. It was pretty funny. Anyway, the Himalayas!

So, the Himalayas have been around for such a long time that they've passed through three glacial periods and they've actually - when they were formed I mean they reached their current height about 20 million years ago and their formation not only changed the local landscape immensely but it actually changed the climate of India by bringing in the monsoons - the monsoons didn't exist before the Himalayas and it also probably changed all of the climactic currents around the world to some extent and definitely regionally and it makes sense if you think about it I mean the fact that we are in a cloud right now and it is raining is because as air rises up the mountain it's density changes and so it rains and the currents around the mountain changes so we have big impacts on the climate now in terms of the climate as the earth warms the Himalayas are being affected just like everywhere else on the planet and in the last 40 years the amount of melt that has happened, that we find in lakes basically there's a lot of lakes that are entirely fed by snowmelt from the Himalayas and the volume of those lakes in the last 40 years has increased by 26% so Climate Change is really impacting the Himalayas.

The Himalayas are also changing and the mountains are getting higher every year Mount Everest gets about half a centimetre to two centimetres higher each year because the plates are still colliding now the plates are colliding at a rate of about 58 millimeters that's about this much per year so India's getting smaller every year and every year the Himalayas get a little taller they also erode, but it's kind of neat to think that if you want to climb the highest mountain in the world you should climb it after the next seismic event after the next earthquake in the Himalayas because those events are when - the air is a little thin and I'm hiking so I'm a little out of breath - those events are when the Himalayas get a little higher. In 2008 there was a 7.9 magnitude earthquake that killed tens of thousands of people so these mountains I mean they're they're massive and it takes a lot of force to create a majestic piece of rock like this it's been pretty amazing to actually look at the rocks you'll often see rocks where there are lines where they actually have been under so much heat and pressure that the rocks themselves have not only changed directions and changed their locations but they have lines and patterns that show that movement which is pretty amazing. Anyway the Himalayas are amazing to me I'm really enjoying my time here I hope you learned some things about this mountain range that is 2500 kilometres across and includes the highest mountain in the world.

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