The Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, dubbed “the roof of the world”, is moving northward and eastward at seven to 30 millimeters a year, a Chinese researcher announced this week. “The plateau is moving because it’s being pushed by the Indian plate,” said Dr. Tan Kai, a researcher with China Seismological Bureau who is collecting data for a GPS survey in the towering Kunlun Mountains in Golmud city of northwest China’s Qinghai Province. Dr. Tan and his colleagues have found through the survey that Lhasa, on the southern end of the plateau, is moving 30 millimeters a year northeast at an angle of 38 degrees.
The seismological bureau has conducted more than 50 GPS surveys on the roof of the world since 1991. Of the country’s 1,056 survey stations, 340 are in the plateau region, which is known as the “third polar of the earth”. Dr. Tan said the GSP surveys can capture real-time, highly precise data to calculate velocity of the crustal movement. Results of the surveys will help scientists study the formation and evolution of the plateau and evaluate the region’s risk of earthquake and other geological disasters.