RESEARCH | Do you know rainfall has the ability to ‘move mountains’?

The study was based in the eastern and central Himalayas of Bhutan and Nepal as this region of the globe has become one of the most tested landscapes for erosion-rate reviews.


Rainfall plays a remarkable role in forming mountainous areas, a landmark new geological study has revealed.

The research, freshly published in Science Advances with Arizona State University co-authors Arjun HeimsathKelin Whipple, and Kip Hodges of the School of Earth & Space Exploration, enhances our comprehension of mountain evolution and understanding of the natural hazards linked with climate-driven erosion.

In this photo are Byron Adams of the University of Bristol (L) and Kelin Whipple of ASU (R). (A. Heimsath/ASU)

“These findings are the newest outcome from a collaborative study that began a few years ago at ASU of the distinct topographic, erosional, and tectonic evolution of the Bhutan Himalaya,” Whipple said.

“Our major motivation was to achieve a better understanding of how current and past rainfall patterns sculpt topography and influence the pattern and rate of tectonic uplift.”

(K. Whipple/ASU)

Although there is no scarcity of scientific models aiming to explain how the Earth works, the more significant challenge can be making enough useful observations to test, which are most precise.

( A. Heimsath/ASU)

The study was based in the eastern and central Himalayas of Bhutan and Nepal as this region of the globe has become one of the most tested landscapes for erosion-rate reviews.

Paro Taktsang temple complex in Bhutan. (ultramansk /

Lead publisher Byron Adams of the University of Bristol, with ASU collaborators Hodges, Whipple, and Heimsath, and with Adam Forte of the Louisiana State University, utilized cosmic clocks within sand grains to measure the pace at which rivers erode the rocks under them.

According to Adams, when a cosmic particle from outer space reaches Earth, it is expected to hit sand grains on hillsides as they are carried toward rivers.

When this occurs, some atoms within each grain of sand can transform into a rare element.

By counting the number of atoms of this element present in a sandbag, it can be calculated how long the sand has been there and how quickly the landscape has been eroding.

The rain can really move mountains, study

This study’s findings also carry significant implications for land-use management, infrastructure maintenance, and hazards in the Himalayas.

Rainfall-driven differences in erosion rates can lead to essential differences in landscape instabilities and hazards.

Rain can really shift mountains and quickly change the landscape - FreeTvOnline

There is the ever-permanent risk that high erosion rates can drastically boost sedimentation rates behind dams in the Himalayas, jeopardizing vital hydropower projects.

Furthermore, enhanced river incision can erode hillslopes, elevating the risk of landslides, some of which may be big enough to dam the river, creating a new hazard — lake outburst floods.

(Dr. Byron Adams)

“Our analysis provides an effective tool for estimating patterns of erosion in mountainous landscapes such as the Himalayas, and thus, can provide invaluable insight into the hazards that influence the hundreds of millions of locals who live within and at the foot of these mountains,” Adams said.

Building on these findings, Whipple leads the team to extend this analysis in an application to the full length of the Himalaya.

(Dr. Byron Adams)

“This study will test our model against further data sets from the central and western Himalayas and apply the results to approximate patterns of erosion rate across the entire range,” Whipple explained.

“Erosional patterns will help us to differentiate among competing models of the mountain-building process and aid refine estimates of seismic and erosional hazards.”

What are your views on this? Share with us in the comments below.

  • Why waste time on stupid studies like this when Bilawal already told you that rainfall brings water and more rainfalls bring more water…Now if an elephant can float in it, why not a mountain?

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