Exploring Colliding Continents in the Himalayas and Tibet
Professor Peter Clift
Tuesday, 22 Nov 2022
7.00 pm to 8.30 pm
Hill Dickinson, 33B, United Centre, 95 Queensway, Admiralty
Exploring wild mountain areas can be a lot of fun, but it's also arduous work, requiring trekking, often with horses across long distances of wild mountain terrain. In this talk, Prof Peter Clift describes some of the adventures involved in trying to reach ancient records and piecing together how the modern Asian continent and monsoon systems formed, including when the region was struck by catastrophic floods.
The surface of the Earth is covered in a series of rigid tectonic plates that move relative to one another. Starting about 50 million years ago, the Indian plate which had been moving rapidly to the north collided with the rest of Eurasia driving up the mountains we call the Himalayas as well as the Tibetan plateau. These have been the largest mountains on Earth for more than 500 million years, and their growth has impacted both global and regional climate, as well as influencing the geology all the way between Iran and the Malay peninsula.
Understanding how the mountains have grown and what effect they've had on the climate and biosphere requires us to reconstruct their uplift history, and this is best done by looking at sedimentary rocks that act as a tape recorder of the mountains’ evolution. Some of this work can be done offshore in the Indian Ocean and marginal seas of East Asia, but significant progress can also be made looking at rocks onshore, especially in the frontal ranges of the Himalayas, and along the suture between India and the rest of Asia in Tibet.
Professor Peter Clift read Earth Sciences at Worcester College, Oxford, followed by taking a doctorate in Geology & Geophysics from the University of Edinburgh. Following a career in the exploration geology industry, he held academic posts at several universities in the United States. From 2004 to 2012, Professor Clift was Professor of Geology at the University of Aberdeen. He is now a Professor of Petroleum Geology at Louisiana State University and Visiting Research Professor at the University of Hong Kong. While widely recognised for his work on Holocene climate change, for which he is widely published, he is perhaps best known for relating his geomorphologic work to human civilisations. He speaks widely at conferences worldwide, is a visiting lecturer at several universities and advises academic organisations worldwide. He is the author of countless papers and books, and has been awarded a prestigious Doctor of Science by the University of Oxford. Members of the RGS, their guests and others are most welcome to attend this event, which is HK$150 for RGS Members and HK$200 for guests and others. The Royal Geographical Society - Hong Kong wishes to express its thanks to Hill Dickinson as the Venue Sponsor of this talk. The opinions expressed in this talk are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of the Royal Geographical Society - Hong Kong.