A brief history of the Indus River
Published:January 01, 2002
The Indus River system is one of the largest rivers on the Asian continent, but unlike the Ganges–Brahmaputra system, the drainage of the Indus is dominated by the western Tibetan Plateau, Karakoram and tectonic units of the Indus Suture Zone, rather than the High Himalaya. The location of the river system relative to the Indus Suture Zone explains the deep exhumation north of that line in the Karakoram, compared with the modest erosion seen further east in Tibet. The modern Indus cuts Paleogene fluvial sedimentary rocks of the Indus Group located along the Indus Suture Zone in Ladakh, northern India. After the final marine incursion within the Indus Group in the early Eocene (<54.6 Ma), palaeo-current indicators changed from a north-south flow to an axial, westward pattern, synchronous with a marked change in sediment provenance involving erosion of South Tibet. The Indus probably was initiated by early Tibetan uplift following the India-Asia collision. The river has remained stationary in the suture since Early Eocene time, cutting down through its earlier deposits as they were deformed by northward folding and thrusting associated with the Zanskar backthrust at c. 20 Ma. The Indus appears to have been located close to its present position within the foreland basin since at least Mid-Miocene time (c. 18 Ma), and to have migrated only c. 100 km east since Early Eocene time. In the Arabian Sea Paleogene fan sedimentation was significant since at least Mid-Eocene time (c. 45 Ma). Sediment flux to the mid fan and shelf increased during Mid-Miocene time (after 16 Ma) and can be correlated with uplift of the Murray Ridge preventing sediment flow into the Gulf of Oman, tectonic uplift and erosion in the Karakoram and western Lhasa Block, and an enhanced monsoon triggered by that same uplift. Sedimentation rates fell during Late Miocene to Recent time. The Indus represents 18% of the total Neogene sediment in the basins that surround Asia, much more than all the basins of Indochina and East Asia combined (c. 11%). Unlike the rivers of East Asia, which have strongly interacted as a result of eastward propagating deformation in that area, the Indus has remained uninterrupted and represents the oldest known river in the Himalayan region.
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The Tectonic and Climatic Evolution of the Arabian Sea Region
Over long periods of time the tectonic evolution of the solid Earth has been recognized as the major control on the development of the global climate system. Tectonic activity acts in one of two different ways to influence regional and global climate: (i) through the opening and closing of oceanic gateways and its effect on the circulation patterns in the global ocean; (ii) through the growth and erosion of orogenic belts, resulting in changes in oceanic chemistry and disruption of atmospheric circulation. The Arabian Sea region has several features that make it the best area for studies of climate and palaeoceanographic responses to tectonic activity, most notably in the context of the South Asian monsoon and its relationship to the growth of high topography in the adjacent Himalayas and Tibet.
The Tectonic and Climatic Evolution of the Arabian Sea Region brings together a collection of recent studies on the area from a wide group of international contributors. The paper range from high resolution, Holocene palaeoceanographic studies of the Pakistan margin to regional tectonic reconstructions of the ocean basin and surrounding margins throughout the Cenozoic. Marine geophysics, stratigraphy, isotope chemistry and neotectonics come together in a multidisciplinary approach to the study of interactions of land and sea. while much work remains to be done to understand fully the tectonic and climatic evolution of the Arabian Sea, a great deal has been achieved since the last major review, as detailed in the 26 contributions. This volume is essential reading for palaeoceanographers, sedimentologists and geophysicists. It will also be interest to structural geologists and those working in the petroleum industry.