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The Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau were formed as a result of the collision of India and Asia, and provide an excellent opportunity to study the mechanical response of the continental lithosphere to tectonic stress. Geophysicists are divided in their views on the nature of this response, advocating either (1) homogeneously distributed deformation with the lithosphere deforming as a fluid continuum or (2) highly localized deformation with the lithosphere deforming as a system of blocks. The resolution of this issue has broad implications for understanding the tectonic response of continental lithosphere in general. Homogeneous deformation is supported by relatively low...

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