On May 21, 2016 we got an email from our Professor Dr. Tara Nidhi Bhattarai regarding the presentation on “Mountain building process from the Himalaya to Southern Alps and Beyond along with the structural geology” from two Professors : Dr. Mary Hubbard and Dr. David R Lageson on May 22, 2016. Dr. Hubbard is Head of Geology Department in Montana State University, USA. Dr. Lageson also belong to the same university. We had gone through several research articles from foreign geologists on the Himalayas but the live presentation from them made us excited. It was not only about the subject matter that triggered the interest within us but we were also keen to see the way American Professors interacted with the students.
Our T-shirt is impressive
The program was scheduled for 6.30 am but we reached there by 6.15 am. After 5 minutes the Professor arrived. Dr. Hubbard was quite surprised to see us there before time. She asked me to turn back so that she could capture the text printed at the back of our formal T-shirt. The text mentioned Engineering Geologist as logical, adventurous and mind blowing. Isn’t that crazy one?
Dr. Hubbard’s connection with the Nepal Himalayas
Dr. Mary Hubbard was in the lap of Nepal Himalayas for her PhD thesis in 1984 (probably). After around 32 years she was here once again with Dr. Lageson to work in the Greater Himalayas focusing on the metamorphism and deformation of summit rocks in Mount Everest. She introduced the mountains she has worked till date all along Africa, New Zealand, Pakistan, Nepal and USA. She talked a little about the crustal deformation (at crustal level and time scale) and the methods involved in structural analysis. She then described about the inverse metamorphism in the Himalayas : the high grade metamorphic rocks lying above the low grade metamorphic rocks. I personally was driven by the scientific methods of analyzing the rock samples in laboratory which were completely new for us (and I don’t even remember the methods). This makes me feel bad about the lack of technology in our country, how we work hard in field investigation but don’t have laboratories for geological/scientific analysis in our own country.
Anyway, Dr. Hubbard was too good to make us understand about the subject matter. And her work in the Himalayas inspires the students like us to keep our passion for geology alive. I must add the fact that I was immensely amazed to see the description from Dr. Hubbard about Southern Alps of New Zealand that lie along a geological plate boundary and Pacific Plate to the southeast pushing westward and colliding with the northward-moving Indo-Australian Plate to the northwest. This was quite new for us who had only dealt with the tectonics of the Himalayas.
World’s tallest mountain has limestone at its peak
Dr. David was totally unconventional on this way of interaction with us. He asked us lots of question on structural geology and made us so much involved in his talk. Well, the main topic of focus was tectonics and overall structural geology of Everest. Dr. Lageson explained how Everest is too complex with various faults and heterogeneous rock composition with different ages. The significant thing to understand for us here is , the uplifted Everest is not the result of single tectonic process but the combination of metamorphism, translation mechanism as well as internal straining process that developed with the initiation of Himalayan orogeny before 55mya (Collision of Indian and Eurassian Plate) . The important conclusion here is that Everest is stacked with different rocks : from bottom there is intrusion of Miocene Leucogranite Sills, Lhotse Shear Zone, Everest Series, Yellow Band and Ordovician Limestone in the pyramid. Within these massif rock series there are major detachment faults like Lhotse and Qomolangma. To add more, Crinoid, marine fossils are also present in this highest mountain.
Dr. David also explaned how Sevier Orogeny/Laramide Orogeny in Northern Rocky Mountain, USA is different from the Himalayas.
I am thankful
Learning about the Himalayas from Dr. Hubbard and Dr. Lageson was indeed a beautiful experience. I express my gratitude and deepest appreciation to them for helping us to widen our knowledge in tectonics and structural geology. I dream of observing the geology of Alps, Andes, Rocky Mountains in USA and entire Himalayas in further days. Well, hope to see you again in our department with new ideas and opportunities.
~You are so enigmatic Himalayas
~You are so still Everest
May 22, 2016
(MSc. Engineering Geology
Tri-Chandra Multiple Campus)