Geologists from China and three other Asian countries will start
a joint scientific expedition through the Himalayas in the middle
of next month, announced the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) on
The 16-strong team will for the first time bring along
scientists from China, India, Nepal and Bhutan, all of which the
Himalayas extend through, to make a month-long comprehensive
investigation into the ecosystem and economic development of the
It will also be a precious opportunity for Chinese scientists to
conduct more research into the southern bend of the Himalayas, said
Zhang Wenjing, chief scientist of the expedition team.
The Himalayas, the world's highest and youngest mountain belt,
extends about 2,400 kilometers from east to west. The Qinghai-Tibet
Plateau of China borders it to the north, while India, Nepal and
Bhutan lie along the southern slope.
"We have done a lot of work about the northern bend in the past
five decades. But, due to political reasons and difficult local
conditions, we had little chance to learn about the other side of
the mountains," said Zhang, an iceberg research expert, now working
at the Chengdu-based Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment
The scientific trek will start from Lhasa, over the northern
bend and through the southern, with a vertical distance of more
than 5,000 meters in altitude.
In addition to comparing the geological structures of the two
bends, the scientists also plan to research their different flora
and fauna, icebergs and water systems.
Liu Jiaqi, a leading geologist in China, said the different
sceneries of the two bends are "gorgeous," though he was only able
to catch a glimpse of the southern bend in his previous several
expeditions into the Himalayas.
"The northern slope is ice-covered, with little trace of life;
but the southern bend is the opposite. It has a subtropical vein,"
said the CAS academician.
He added that the expedition will probably provide a key to the
mystery of the rise of the Himalayas. "Evidence of plate movement
lies only in the southern bend," Liu said.
The scientists will also try to analyze the impacts of the two
different ecosystems upon the indigenous climate during the
Zhang said sociologists will also join them to study local
culture, economy, religion and environmental protection
The trek will result in a draft map of the geology and ecosystem
of the Himalayas.
(China Daily September 16, 2006)