Global Geological And Climatic Events

Ladakh Fault in Indus Suture Zone (ISZ)


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Himalayan orogeny

Mains level : Not Much

A recent survey has found that a tectonic fault line that runs through Ladakh, all along the Indus river, is not inactive as was previously thought and is, in fact, moving northward.

Tap here to read more about Himalayan orogeny:

Indus Suture Zone (ISZ)

  • A suture zone is a linear belt of intense deformation, where distinct terranes, or tectonic units with different plate tectonic, metamorphic, and paleogeographic histories, join together.
  • The ISZ represents a belt of tectonic compression caused by the underthrusting of the Indian shield/ plate against the Tibetan mass.
  • It marks the boundary between the Indian and Eurasian plates.
  • The suture zone stretches from the North-Western Himalayan syntaxis bordering the Nanga Parbat to the East as far as the Namche Barwa Mountain.

Its tectonic activity

  • The Karakoram Range and the Ladakh plateau lie to the north of ISZ and originally formed a part of the European plate.
  • The zone has been neo-tectonically active for the past 78,000-58,000 years.
  • While the frontal and central parts of the Himalayas — the Shivaliks, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir and Sikkim — are still known to be active and moving.
  • The fault line runs all along the Indus river, from China through India and Pakistan.
  • The study was conducted in Ladakh from the north of Ladakh’s capital, Leh, to the Tso Moriri lake, a distance of 213 kilometres.

Why the Ladakh region is more vulnerable?

  • Fault lines weaken the rock formation in the region through which it runs, making the area vulnerable to excessive erosion and landslides.
  • What makes the Ladakh region vulnerable is that unlike other areas in the Himalayas and the rest of the country, there is very little vegetation here and very few trees that can root the soil down.
  • So, in the case of a flash flood or a cloud burst, this can have a widespread impact.

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