Monsoons spin the earth’s plates, Australian Geographic // 15 April 2011

LONG-TERM, NATURAL CLIMATIC events can alter the motion of the earth’s tectonic plates, according to new research.

An international team – led by researchers from the Australian National University – found that intensifying monsoon activity has sped up the motion of the Indian plate, which crunched into the Eurasian plate to form the Himalayas 40 to 50 million years ago.

Over the past 10-15 million years, monsoons – which increase rainfall in northeast India by 4m annually and cause erosion – have sped up the anti-clockwise motion of the Indian plate by almost one centimetre per year, the researchers say. This is quite fast, considering tectonic plates move about the same rate at which fingernails grow.

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