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A ‘blank on the map’ only 60 years ago, the Karakoram Range has been explored and surveyed with greater difficulty than the Himalaya and Tibet due to its rugged terrain and extensive glaciation. In the past ten years we have succeeded in doubling the number of gravity stations. A substantial improvement in coverage and overall quality was obtained by concentrating on previously unsurveyed areas and by validating older data with more accurate measurements. Our data were merged with earlier data, converted to full Bouguer anomalies and gridded. The resulting Bouguer anomaly map defines very precisely the gravimetric low associated with the Nanga Parbat-Haramosh syntaxis, and the huge negative anomalies between the Karakoram Fault and the Main Karakoram Thrust. Large negative values are now visible also in the Ghujerab-Khunjerab areas. Correlation of the topography and Bouguer anomaly shows that a plate of flexural rigidity with D = 2 × 1024 Nm fits the coherence data in the Karakoram at all but two distinct frequency ranges centred at wavelengths of 80 and 300 km. In a rheologically layered lithosphere developing a buckling instability under horizontal compression, the observed spectral features of the topography and Bouguer gravity anomalies constrain the depth of the competent layers to be in the range 13–20 km and 50–75 km respectively.

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