Over five hundred million years
ago, there was an ocean between the separate continents
of Asia and India. Each year as the tectonic plates of
the earth shifted, India moved 10cm toward Asia. When it
finally collided with Asia fifty million years ago, that
ocean receded as the Tibetan plateau raised higher and
higher. As India gradually pushed another 2000km into
Asia, parts of the sea floor were forced upward to form
the Himalayan mountains -- in some places pushing
fossils of ancient ocean creatures more than a mile
above sea level. The land that makes up Bhutan was
created in this continental collision. It lies on the
southern rim of the Himalayan mountain chain that was
thrust upward when the Indian peninsula rammed into
As time went on, rivers cut
V-shaped valleys between the newly formed mountains.
During the ice age, the movement of glaciers carved the
valleys into a U shape. After the glaciers retreated,
the rivers once again began to wear V shaped clefts into
the valley floor.
The formation of mountains ended
37 million years ago. But the Indian subcontinent is
still moving, and people in Bhutan often experience the
consequences of this movement as earthquakes.