, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 457–511 | Cite as

Geomorphological findings on the build-up of pleistocene glaciation in Southern Tibet and on the problem of inland ice —

Results of the Shisha Pangma and Mt. Everest expedition 1984
  • Kuhle Matthias 


The last Ice Age (Würm) glacier cover was reconstructed on the basis of standard geomorphological indicators in S Tibet between the S slope and N slope of the Himalaya by way of the Tibetan Himalaya to the Transhimalaya (28° – 29° 50' N/85° 40' – 91° 10' E). At the same time, though subject to varying density of data, the process of Late and Post-Glacial deglaciation to Neo-Galacial and Recent glacier cover was considered. Evidence of an almost total glaciation of S Tibet was found in indicators like glaciated knobs, trough valleys with pronounced flank polishings and limits of glacial scouring on nunataks, as well as in findings of erratics, lateral moraines, end moraines, and terraces of outwash plains. This total glaciation took the form of an ice-stream network and attained a thickness of at least 1200 m. Ice-free to about 87° – 86° E, the Tsangpo valley with its sander deposits occupied the gap between the glacier areas of the Tibetan and High Himalayas in the S (I 3) and those of the Transhimalaya in the N (I 2). In the light of recently glaciated Late Glacial terminal moraines and ice marginal rapms it has been possible to estimate a glacio-isostatic uplift of c. 400 m during 10 x 103 years (an average of 40 mm/year) following deglaciation. It is about 3 to 8 times greater than the tectonic uplift of the High Himalaya. The post-glacially intensified uplift of the S Tibetan Plateau by comparison with the High Himalaya is attributed to the much greater glacier burden during the Ice Age.

In the area under investigation a High Glacial ELA depression (equilibrium line altitude depr.) of at least 1200 (1180) m was reconstructed for a mean altitude of about 4700 (4716) m asl. Assuming constant hygric conditions and a gradient of 0.7° C/100 m, the temperature drop at the time would have been 8.4° C. Since precipitation during the Ice Age must, if anything, have been less, a drop in summer temperature of about 10° C may be regarded as probable.


Tectonic Uplift Glacier Area Lateral Moraine Terminal Moraine Equilibrium Line Altitude 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kuhle Matthias 
    • 1
  1. 1.Geogr. Inst.Universität GöttingenGöttingenGermany

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