Abstract

Recent work by Burg et al. (1984) indicates the presence of east-west-striking, gently north-dipping normal faults in the Higher Himalayas and southern Tibet that formed during postcollisional convergence of India and Tibet. These faults extend for at least 800 km along strike. We interpret these normal faults as probable late(?) Miocene extensional features with perhaps several tens of kilometres of down-to-the-north displacement. A simple elastic model suggests that these normal faults may have formed during gravitational collapse of the Miocene topographic front between India and Tibet. In this interpretation, gravitational collapse occurred by southward motion, relative to India and Tibet, of a wedge of crustal rocks bounded above by gently north-dipping normal faults and below by thrust faults that probably dip north. North-south extension produced in this way is probably confined to upper crustal levels only and does not reflect regional extension of the entire lithosphere.

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