Abstract

High-resolution digital topography (three arc-second grid) for most of Tibet provides new information to characterize the relief of the highest and largest plateau on Earth. The arid to semiarid central and northern part of the plateau interior has low relief (average slopes of ∼; over 250 m windows) and a mean elevation of 5023 m above sea level. At moderate wavelengths of ∼m, relief is ∼or less for most of Tibet, as opposed to the much higher relief of up to 6 km on the plateau edges, where glacial and fluvial dissection is greater because of higher levels of precipitation. The only faults manifesting significant topographic relief are the relatively small scale, generally north-trending graben systems, primarily in southern Tibet, and several large-scale fault systems near the edges of Tibet. The flatness of Tibet implies that (1) there has been little deformation (especially shortening) of the uppermost crust north of the graben systems during the late Cenozoic, and (2) shallow crustal isostatic compensation has been acting to level the surface of the plateau.

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