Noting similarities with subduction along curved oceanic trenches and using a simple block model, we show that radial vergence evident in earthquake slip vectors along the Himalayan deformation front, east-west extension on north-trending normal faults in the Himalayas and southern Tibet, and right-lateral strike slip on the Karakorum-Jiali fault zone can all result from basal shear caused by the Indian plate sliding obliquely beneath Tibet along a gently dipping, arcuate plate boundary. Within the framework of this mechanism, the normal faults in the Himalayas and southern Tibet are not proxies for the uplift history of Tibet. The distribution and style of the faults in the Himalayas and southern Tibet suggest that the basal drag from the underthrusting Indian lithosphere extends northward beneath most of southern Tibet.

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