For billions of years, processes related to the growth of mountains have not stopped on our planet. Yes, mountains do grow, and that is not a secret for the science. But the factors, that control that growth are unknown. A new research could put an end to much debate on that topic. The researchers believe that these factors are hidden in tectonic forces beneath the mountains. But not in winds and erosion processes, as previously thought.
Thus, the maximum height of the mountain can be formed due to the collision zones of tectonic plates, taking into account the balance of forces in the depths of the Earth's crust. During the movement of tectonic plates, they displace each other.
One of the plates descends into the mantle of the Earth, bending and folding. As that process is active, mountain ranges form on the planet. But the scientists are concerned about the question: is it the main factor affecting the height of the mountain, or is it a feature of the climate that today plays a decisive role on the planet? But there is the third factor - isostasis. It is a process that keeps mountains in a growing state on top of a hot and soft mantle.
The scientists managed to determine the strength of some plate boundaries, on the basis of that they made models taking into account the various forces acting on tectonic plates. In doing so, they used measurements of the heat flux near the surface to study the main friction energy.
Comparing the models with the state of the mountains, such as the mountain range in the Himalayas, the Andes, Sumatra and Japan, the researchers concluded that in the mountains, that are still actively growing, the height and weight remain in equilibrium with the huge underground forces beneath them.
In fact, if the voltage changes, then the height of the mountain changes as well. In that case, the erosion processes can modulate a mountain topography, causing active disturbances in climatic and tectonic influences. But detailed studies of these processes showed that erosion is not able to get ahead of isostatic and tectonic processes, and they maintain the boundaries of the plates in force equilibrium.
That can be represented in the following picture: if you put your hands on the tablecloth and slide them together, wrinkles of tissue form between the hands. So in the case of moving layers of the Earth, the tectonic activity is manifested in the form of mountain growth.