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Anyone can tell you that Mt. Everest is the tallest mountain in the world. However, few know that the earth’s ceiling’ has grown a bit taller over time. A new study reveals that Tibet, the world’s highest region is now 2,000 feet higher than it was some time in the past.

Geological history located in an underwater lava

Researchers from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark say underwater lava was the key to understanding these revelations on the earth’s evolution. Calling Tibet, the roof of the world is not an exaggeration. The region sits close to 15,000 feet above sea level. The Himalayan mountain range also hosts the planet’s two highest peaks: K2 and Everest.

That said, the region’s actual height has been the subject of scientists’ debate for a long time. Study authors say that some researchers believe that it has been the same height since it was formed. Another group, on the other hand, believes that the area grew taller over millions of years.

The researchers used new scans of the Indian Ocean seabed and calculations detailing the movement of the earth’s tectonic plates for the study. The results presented evidence that the mountain range has had a “growth spurt” following its formation.

Study author Professor Giampiero Iaffaldano explains that by looking at existing data of Tibet’s emergence and adding it to new geological data from the Indian Ocean, they are sure that there was a major geological change in Tibet 15 to 18 million years ago. The change is believed to have caused the area to rise between 300 and 600 meters.

The researchers attribute this 1,000 to 2,000-foot rise on the tectonic plates that China and India sit on. India was initially further South of where it sits now, but it has now moved Northwards over millions of years. At some point, it collided with India, forming Tibet.

Conflicting theories

Researchers who believe the area has not changed say that rock samples and fossils suggest that the area has remained the same for more than 30 million years. The other group points at a long time it took for China to collide with India, saying that as a result, Tibet was pushed upwards but at a languid pace.