A new geological science paper, published in the November 2016 issue of Geosciences Research, challenges one of the key principles of plate tectonics. The new study presents geological evidence that there was never an ancient gigantic ocean between India and Asia.
When the concept of Plate Tectonics was being developed during the late 1960s to early 1970s, it was obvious to everyone that the ancient plates didn’t join together. There were large gaps in the reconstructions. Some geologists argued that this was because the Earth was smaller in the past due to an Expanding Earth but most scientists considered this an outrageous idea. There must be another answer.
Many people thought the other answer was that whole ancient ocean floors had been subducted back into the Earth. Since the major advocates of this new theory were based in America and Europe it was clear to them that these subduction zones couldn’t be anywhere they had ever studied in detail. The subduction zones must be at the bottom of the ocean or half a world away in India, probably in the most inaccessible regions of the Himalayas. They suggested there must have been a vast ancient ocean as wide as the Atlantic between India and Asia. This concept of a vast ancient ocean, known as the Tethys Ocean, became one of the key beliefs of the new Plate Tectonic Theory.
American and European geologist all agreed this was a workable hypothesis and everyone was happy. Well, not quite everyone. Geologists with their boots on the ground in India objected that there was no sign of the geological evidence for a gigantic gap where this ancient ocean was supposed to be located. It seemed to them that India had always been connected to Asia. Since there was no large gap the Earth Expansion Theory was probably true, no matter how outrageous the idea seemed.
The debate about the two theories is the subject of a new paper, A Critical Analysis of North-South Continuity of Landmasses across Indus-Yarlu-Tsangpo Suture Zone: Its Bearing on the Himalayan Evolution, by Zahid A. Khan and Ram Chandra Tewari. Their paper is published in the November 2016 issue of Geosciences Research and a pdf can be downloaded for free.
The two geologists present the geological evidence that Asian and India remain connected in the past. Their studies of life, ancient glaciations, climate and volcanic eruptions in the area allowed the geologists to conclude that:
“Similarities of these deposits with those of basal Gondwana Talchir rocks indicate that India and Tibet (and hence the rest of Asia) were united in the Upper Carboniferous and Lower Permian. Further, paleo-biogeography of the region suggests their continuity through Permian, Triassic and Jurassic, and up to Cretaceous. […]
The various geological arguments such as structure, paleo-biogeography, paleoclimate and volcanic history, including the presence of Tibetan glacial deposits therefore, do not convincingly support the concept of collision of two landmasses, as popularly believed today or by the plate convergence and the hypothetical subduction in this part of world.”
Khan, Z. A., & Tewari, R. C. (2016). A Critical Analysis of North-South Continuity of Landmasses across Indus-Yarlu-Tsangpo Suture Zone: Its Bearing on the Himalayan Evolution. Geosciences Research. Volume 1, Number 1. PP. 60-79, Pub. Date: November 28, 2016.
Abstract & Free pdf
Page first created 14 Dec 16
Page last updated 09 Jan 17
“Similarities ... indicate that India and Tibet (and hence the rest of Asia) were united in the Upper Carboniferous and Lower Permian. Further, paleo-biogeography of the region suggests their continuity through Permian, Triassic and Jurassic, and up to Cretaceous.”
Khan and Tewari