World and Its Peoples: Eastern and Southern Asia - Vol. 5

By Paul Bernabeo | Go to book overview

Geology of Myanmar and Thailand

The underlying geology of Myanmar (Burma) and Thailand divides the two nations into several distinct topographical (landform) regions. Earth's outer layer, the lithosphere, is divided into a number of sections, called tectonic plates, that move. The recent movement of plates in Southeast Asia played an important role in shaping the landscape of the region.

Northern Thailand and much of eastern Myanmar are highlands, while central Thailand is a region of plains known as the Central Lowlands. The lowlands are dominated by the floodplain of the Chao Phraya River and its tributaries. The eastern part of Thailand, known as Isan, is formed by the Khorat Plateau, a broad saucer-shaped area of moderate elevation. In the east, the plateau ends along the valley of the Mekong River, which forms the border between Thailand and Laos. A broad north-south depression occupied by the Irrawaddy River and its tributaries lies west of the highlands that form eastern Myanmar. This lowland ends in the Irrawaddy Delta that opens in the south to the Andaman Sea, which is part of the Indian Ocean. A separate area of highland in western Myanmar forms the border with India. The relatively narrow coastal plains that bound the Andaman Sea continue south into the more varied terrain of the southern Isthmus of Kra and Peninsular Thailand.


CONTINENTAL COLLISION

The tectonic processes that shaped this varied landscape can be traced back to Devonian (about 417 to 345 million years ago) and Carboniferous (around 345 to 290 million years ago) times, when the ancient continental core that now forms southern China grew after its collision with a smaller continental fragment. This fragment now forms much of eastern Thailand (the Khorat Plateau), Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

Further continental fragments collided with, and were added to, the continental core during the later part of the Permian period (from 290 through 248 million years ago) and in the Triassic period (248 to 206 million years ago). This later collision added the Shan Thai terrane (a series of rock formations), which lies beneath western Thailand and eastern Myanmar. A variety of sediments accumulated on these ancient continental fragments and in the deeper water that surrounded them. The collision between the fragments was most likely the result of the subduction (sliding under) of the ancient oceans that originally separated them. Along subduction zones, one plate overrides or subducts another, pushing it downward into the mantle (the layer of Earth between the crust and the core), where it melts. Although these ancient oceans have long since

The Irrawaddy River in Myanmar flows through a valley
formed along the line of the Sagaing Fault
.

-590-

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World and Its Peoples: Eastern and Southern Asia - Vol. 5
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Country Locator for Volume 5 Myanmar and Thailand i
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Geography and Climate 580
  • The Land of Myanmar and Thailand 582
  • Geology of Myanmar and Thailand 590
  • Climate of Myanmar and Thailand 594
  • Flora and Fauna of Thailand and Myanmar 598
  • History and Movement of Peoples 602
  • Sukhothai and Ayutthaya 604
  • Later Burmese Kingdoms 608
  • British Intervention in Burma 610
  • Peoples of Myanmar and Thailand 612
  • Myanmar (Burma) 614
  • Government 618
  • Modern History 620
  • War and Independence 623
  • Independent Burma 626
  • Modern Myanmar 628
  • Cultural Expression 630
  • Art and Architecture 632
  • Music and Performing Arts 636
  • Festivals and Ceremonies 638
  • Food and Drink 640
  • Daily Life 642
  • Family and Society 644
  • Welfare 646
  • Yangon (Rangoon) 648
  • Naypyidaw 650
  • Mandalay 651
  • Moulmein 652
  • Pegu 653
  • Economy 654
  • Thailand 662
  • Government 666
  • Modern History 668
  • Siam in Transition 670
  • The Age of Reform 672
  • War and Military Rule 674
  • Modern Thailand 676
  • Cultural Expression 678
  • Art and Architecture 680
  • Decorative Arts 683
  • Music and Performing Arts 684
  • Festivals and Ceremonies 687
  • Food and Drink 688
  • Daily Life 690
  • Family and Society 693
  • Health, Welfare, and Housing 695
  • Education 697
  • Bangkok 698
  • Chiang Mai 703
  • Nakhon Ratchasima 704
  • Udon Thani 705
  • Economy 706
  • Further Research 716
  • Index 718
  • World and Its Peoples 722
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