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Geological Sciences

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GPS data reveal that the Brahmaputra Valley has broken from the Indian Plate and rotates clockwise relative to India about a point a few hundred kilometers west of the Shillong Plateau. The GPS velocity vectors define two distinct blocks separated by the Kopili fault upon which 2–3 mm/yr of dextral slip is observed: the Shillong block between longitudes 89 and 93°E rotating clockwise at 1.15°/Myr and the Assam block from 93.5°E to 97°E rotating at ≈1.13°/Myr. These two blocks are more than 120 km wide in a north‐south sense, but they extend locally a similar distance beneath the Himalaya and Tibet. A result of these rotations is that convergence across the Himalaya east of Sikkim decreases in velocity eastward from 18 to ≈12 mm/yr and convergence between the Shillong Plateau and Bangladesh across the Dauki fault increases from 3 mm/yr in the west to >8 mm/yr in the east. This fast convergence rate is inconsistent with inferred geological uplift rates on the plateau (if a 45°N dip is assumed for the Dauki fault) unless clockwise rotation of the Shillong block has increased substantially in the past 4–8 Myr. Such acceleration is consistent with the reported recent slowing in the convergence rate across the Bhutan Himalaya. The current slip potential near Bhutan, based on present‐day convergence rates and assuming no great earthquake since 1713 A.D., is now ~5.4 m, similar to the slip reported from alluvial terraces that offsets across the Main Himalayan Thrust and sufficient to sustain a Mw ≥ 8.0 earthquake in this area.


This article was originally published in Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.


Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth


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