In this past summer, I joined a field trip in southern Tibet, one of my not-so-many long serious field trips. The field trip was led by Dr. Weiqiang Ji from CAS. We had a total of eight people on our team, including six geologists and two local drivers. It was my first time to be in Tibet. 7/6-7/22.
Tibet is special to geologists, nature enthusiasts, or everyone perhaps. It is the largest mountain belt/plateau in the world. Tibet is home to numerous high mountains, including Mt. Everest, the highest peak in the world. It is the roof of the planet. Tibet is unique its landscapes, climate, ecosystems, people and culture. Tibet is high and lonely. It is far less accessible than other mountainous areas, and remains as one of the least known places in the world. Tibet is an extreme land.
Tibet started to rise somewhat 50-70 million years ago, and is still rising today. The rise of Tibet is due much to the collision between India and Asia. Tibet is a facinating place to study geology. It’s a complicated dynamic system and just about everyone in Earth sciences can find something to his/her taste in Tibet. We landed in Lhasa on 7/6, took a break on 7/7 and started off our journey on 7/8. The altitude effect was always there, but I got used to it after a couple of days. My fitbit Alta HR recorded a gradual increase of my resting heart rate from < 60 to 75 in the first week. I knew my body was adapting to the low oxygen.
Farms of highland barley (青稞). Rice and wheat do not grow well in Tibet due to the lack of water. Highland barley instead is the staple food here.
In the remote areas, many villages have only a dozen of households.
The rain is coming. Summer is the wet season in Tibet, and we had quite a lot of raining days during the trip.
Our Tibetan drivers were testing the performance of the Toyota Land Cruisers while we were looking at the outcrops.
Rape flowers are very common in Tibet, something unexpected!
Weiqiang was giving some introductions about the local geology at this outcrop of Dazhuka conglomerate. It was near the end of that day.
Sparrows eating barley.
Wenrong looking for outcrops.
Beryl (a pale green bar) and garnet (red clusters) in leucogranite quartz veins.
Gyantse County (江孜县) at dusk, with Gyantse Fort in the background.
Making orders in a restaurant in Gyantse.
A remote village in the vast wild land, like an island. Altitude was > 4,500 m.
A mini store at 5,300 m. Didn’t get a chance to walk in.
A village sitting in a U-shaped valley carved by glaciers.
Yamdrok Lake, one of the three largest sacred lakes in Tibet. See here
Highway running in the valley.
Potala Palace at night.
It was very eazy to get contrasty pictures in sunny days. Driving from Lhasa to Nyingchi.
Driving from Lhasa to Nyingchi. Nyingchi is lower in altitude, and is such a beautiful and clean city. It’s a gem on the edge of the Tibetan plateau.
Xu was taking notes in the car.
Road crews were cracking and removing fallen rocks on the road.
Monkeys on the cliff!
Wenrong was examining an outcrop at dusk.
Xu and Wenrong walking down a hill near Tsetang.
Local people doing rituals at their village entrance before dusk. The giant rotating prayer wheel is believed to bring good luck to the people.
Water rushing beneath a wooden bridge.
Power poles on the mountains, sending electricity to villages scattered throughout the plateau.
Highland Barley Festival!
Grasslands at 4,700 m
Yaks! I had thought that Tibetan yaks were dangerous and might attack people, but it turned out that they were very mild and tended to run away from people…
Collecting samples at 4,800 m.
A service station?
Mountains in distance.
A beam of sunlight penetrated the cloud, shining on a mountain slope.
Road in Tibet.
Kids running down a hill. They told me they were flying paper planes.
Xu and Weiqiang were climbing.
Mist in the mountains.
The back of Potala Palace after sunset.
Man sitting in a souvenir store by the Potala Palace.
A little Tibetan kid was playing by the street, and suddenly found me taking pictures of him when he looked up.
Metal flower statues. The last night.