The Formation of Mount Everest
Mount Everest, standing at a towering height of approximately 8,848.86 meters, is the highest peak on the globe. This gigantic mountain has captivated mountaineers, geologists, and thrill-seekers around the world for its immense beauty and the challenging adventure it offers. However, how did such a colossal mountain come into existence? Let’s dive into the geologic history to decipher the wonder that is Mount Everest.
The Fundamentals of Mountain Formation
The birth of mountains is a complex process that takes millions of years to fully occur. It’s all about the confluence and collision of tectonic plates, the gigantic pieces of earth’s lithosphere that fit together like a disorderly jigsaw. These tectonic plates are continuously moving because of the heat and pressure in the earth’s interior.
Tectonic Plate Movement and the birth of Himalayas
Mount Everest is part of the Himalayan Mountain Range in Asia that includes other prominent peaks like K2 and Annapurna. Around 250 million years ago, the Indian subcontinent was located far south of the Equator and thousands of miles away from the Asian continent. The Indian tectonic plate began its slow migration northward, towards the much larger Eurasian plate.
For millions of years, these continents moved toward one another until about 50-40 million years ago when they finally met. This collision has not stopped but has slowed significantly to an advancement of around two inches per year.
Birth of Mount Everest
When these two plates collided, the northern edge of the Indian Plate began to go beneath the Eurasian Plate while the rest of the Indian landmass continued to move northwards, pushing up the ancient seabed and forming the towering Himalayan range. The process also formed the Tibetan Plateau, often referred to as the “roof of the world”.
Mount Everest, like the rest of the Himalayan range, is believed to have started forming almost 30 million years ago. However, the major uplifting is predicted to have occurred about 2 million years past, pushing Mount Everest to the remarkable height we know today. The peak continues to grow approximately half an inch per year due to the ongoing collision between the Indian and Eurasian plates.
Breaking Down the Geological Characteristics
The Himalayas are primarily made up of sedimentary and metamorphic rock. Mount Everest, too, is made up of three primary rock types – schist, marble, and granite. The summit of Mount Everest is composed of rock thought to be marine limestone, deposited on the sea floor about 450 million years ago.
Mountain building at this scale does not occur without some serious side effects. The immense heat and pressure at the plate boundaries have caused the rocks at the base of the mountains to partially melt, forming pockets of magma that eventually cool down to form granite.
1. How was Mount Everest named?
Mount Everest was named after Sir George Everest, the British surveyor-general of India. Andrew Waugh, his successor, decided to name the peak after him in 1865.
2. Is Mount Everest still growing?
Yes, due to the ongoing tectonic pressures, it continues to grow by approximately half an inch per year.
3. How old is Mount Everest?
The process of forming Mount Everest started about 30 million years ago, but the significant uplift that pushed it to its current height happened about 2 million years ago.
4. What kind of rocks make up Mount Everest?
Mount Everest is primarily made up of three types of rocks – schist, marble, and granite. The summit is composed of marine limestone that was deposited on the sea floor approximately 450 million years ago.
5. Why is Mount Everest so popular among mountaineers?
Mount Everest’s height, challenging terrain, unpredictable weather, and magnificent beauty make it a popular, yet dangerous, destination for mountaineers from across the globe. Conquering Mount Everest is seen as the ultimate achievement in the world of mountaineering.
6. How tall is Mount Everest?
As of the latest measurement in 2020, Mount Everest stands at a height of approximately 8,848.86 meters or 29,031.7 feet.
7. Where is Mount Everest located?
Mount Everest is located in the Himalayan Mountain Range, straddling the border of Nepal and Tibet in Asia.