As evidenced by plentiful data, most of the large recent positive topographic features formed as a result of a dramatically accelerated crustal uplift in the Pliocene–Quaternary after a relatively stable period (∼100 Myr in most of the regions). The methods used are illustrated by the well-studied large neotectonic crustal uplifts on the Tibetan Plateau and in the Himalayas. Farther north, neotectonic uplifts with amplitudes of several hundred meters to several kilometers spread over a vast area from Central and Northeast China in the south to the Taimyr Peninsula and Northeastern Asia in the north. They are often attributed to the India–Asia plate collision which began ∼50 Ma.
Most of the uplifts in these regions have formed only during the last few Myr, unaccompanied by significant crustal shortening. Therefore, the large neotectonic crustal uplifts can be explained by a decrease in the lithospheric density. One of the causes was the rapid convective replacement of the lower part of the denser mantle lithosphere by the asthenosphere or mantle plume. This became possible owing to a drastic weakening of the mantle lithosphere under the influence of asthenospheric fluids. In some areas, a considerable asthenospheric top uplift is evidenced by seismic tomography data.
The lower mantle lithosphere (∼50–100 km thick) was replaced by the asthenosphere underneath the neotectonic crustal uplifts of ∼1.0 km in Central Asia. Areas with a thick lithosphere were affected by relatively small neotectonic uplifts, strongly nonuniform in space. They point to metamorphism with mafic-rock expansion in the lower crust upon the infiltration of an asthenospheric fluid. The large crustal uplifts which formed on the continents in the Pliocene and Pleistocene indicate large-scale quasi-synchronic supply of the mantle fluid to their lithosphere.