Brief Communications Arising | Published:

Earth science

Palaeo-altimetry of Tibet

Naturevolume 444pageE4 (2006) | Download Citation



Arising from: D. B. Rowley & B. S. Currie Nature 439, 677–681 (2006); Rowley & Currie reply

The determination of palaeo-elevation has emerged in the past 15 years as an important tool for constraining physical processes that govern the formation of mountain belts. Rowley and Currie1 report palaeo-elevations for the Lunpola basin within the Tibetan plateau and claim that these elevations are incompatible with 'mantle-thickening models' for mountain formation. We show here that their data do not support this conclusion and, indeed, are consistent with its opposite. The Tibetan plateau could have risen by a kilometre or more as its dense lower lithosphere sank into the underlying mantle.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. 1

    Rowley, D. B. & Currie, B. S. Nature 439, 677–681 (2006).

  2. 2

    England, P. & Houseman, G. J. Geophys. Res. 94, 17561–17579 (1989).

  3. 3

    Molnar, P., England, P. & Martinod, J. Rev. Geophys. 31, 357–396 (1993).

  4. 4

    England, P. C. & Searle, M. Tectonics 5, 1–14 (1986).

  5. 5

    Murphy, M. A. et al. Geology 25, 719–722 (1997).

  6. 6

    Kapp, P., Yin, A., Harrison, T. M. & Ding, L. Geol. Soc. Am. Bull. 117, 865–878 (2005).

  7. 7

    Harrison, T. M., Copeland, P., Kidd, W. S. F. & Yin, A. Science 255, 1663–1670 (1992).

  8. 8

    Blisniuk, P. M. et al. Nature 412, 628–632 (2001).

  9. 9

    Molnar, P. & Chen, W.-P. J. Geophys. Res. 88, 1180–1196 (1983).

  10. 10

    Molnar, P. & Lyon-Caen, H. Geophys. J. Int. 99, 123–153 (1989).

Download references

Author information


  1. Department of Geological Sciences and Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Science (CIRES), University of Colorado, Boulder, 80309-0399, Colorado, USA

    • Peter Molnar
  2. Institute of Geophysics and Tectonics, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, UK

    • Gregory A. Houseman
  3. Department of Earth Sciences, Oxford University, Oxford, OX1 3PR, UK

    • Philip C. England


  1. Search for Peter Molnar in:

  2. Search for Gregory A. Houseman in:

  3. Search for Philip C. England in:

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Peter Molnar.

About this article

Publication history


Issue Date


Further reading


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.