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Types of Mountains

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The Mountains; Formation of Mountains; Types of Mountains; Location of Mountains; Growing Mountains; The Mountain Range and System; Highest and Tallest Mountain; Over 8000 Meters Tall; The Highest Mountains On Each Continent; Erosion Over Mountains; Mountaineering; Weather Conditions and Life On Mountains; Role Of Mountains In Social Life


There are five basic kinds of mountains:

Fold Mountains (Folded Mountains)

Fault-block Mountains (Block Mountains)

Dome Mountains

Volcanic Mountains

Plateau Mountains

These different types of mountain names not only distinguish the physical characteristics of the mountains, but also how they were formed.

Fold Mountains

Fold mountains are the most common type of mountain. The world’s largest mountain ranges are Fold Mountains. These ranges were formed over millions of years.

In South America, the Andes Mountains were formed by the collision of the South American continental plate and the oceanic Pacific plate.

Fold Mountains are formed when two plates collide head on and their edges crumbled, much the same way as a piece of paper folds when pushed together.

The upward folds are known as anticlines, and the downward folds are synclines.

Examples of Fold Mountains include:

Himalayan Mountains in Asia

The Alps in Europe

The Andes in South America

The Rockies in North America

The Urals in Russia

The Himalayan Mountains were formed when India crashed into Asia and pushed up

Fault Block Mountains: Each of Earth’s plates has cracks, known as ‘faults’ that divide the crust into huge blocks. Blocks of Earth’s crust can shift along faults. When the blocks shift up and down, they create fault Block Mountains.

Two Tectonic Plates meet along the Southern Alps. This is called a fault line. The Southern Alps are constantly changing because the Pacific Plate is being pushed down under the Australian Plate and that causes the Alps to rise up.

These mountains form when faults or cracks in the earth's crust force some materials or blocks of rock up and others down. A young mountain range, such as the Alps, has rough, jagged peaks.

Instead of the earth folding over, the earth's crust fractures (pulls apart). It breaks up into blocks or chunks. Sometimes these blocks of rock move up and down, as they move apart and blocks of rock end up being stacked on one another.

Often fault-block Mountains have a steep front side and a sloping back side.

Examples of fault-block mountains include:

The Sierra Nevada mountains in North America

The Harz Mountains in Germany

Fault block mountains such as the Sierra Nevada in California, in the United States, are usually smaller than fold mountains. Fault block and fold mountains are formed by slow movements of Earth’s crust, so they take thousands of years to grow.

Dome Mountains

Dome mountains are the result of a great amount of melted rock (magma) pushing its way up under the earth crust. Without actually erupting onto the surface, the magma pushes up overlaying rock layers. At some point, the magma cools and forms hardened rock. The uplifted area created by rising magma is called a dome because of looking like the top half of a sphere (ball). The rock layers over the hardened magma are warped upward to form the dome. But the rock layers of the surrounding area remain flat.

As the dome is higher than its surroundings, erosion by wind and rain occurs from the top. This results in a circular mountain range. Domes that have been worn away in places form many separate peaks called Dome Mountains.

Volcanic Mountain

A volcano is a kind of a mountain that can form quickly, sometimes in days, through the build-up of ash and rock. A volcano starts when red-hot liquid rock from deep inside Earth forces its way to the surface and pours out in fiery streams. When a volcano erupts, lava, ash and rocks build-up to form a mountain. An active volcano or one that erupts regularly grows taller each time it erupts. Stromboli, in the Lipari Islands near Italy is an active volcano. A volcano that has not erupted for a long time, such as Mount Fuji in Japan, is dormant. A dormant volcano can suddenly erupt again. Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa is called an extinct volcano. It has completed its active life and will not erupt again. Mountains made by volcanoes change the landscape dramatically and quickly. Other kinds of mountains grow or shrink much more slowly. Examples of volcanic mountains include:

Mount St. Helens in North America

Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines

Mount Kea and Mount Loa in Hawaii

Plateau Mountains (Erosion Mountains)

Plateau mountains are not formed by internal activity. Instead, these mountains are formed by erosion. Plateaus are large flat areas that have been pushed above sea level by forces within the Earth, or have been formed by layers of lava. The dictionary describes these as large areas of ‘high levels’ of flat land, over 600 meters above sea level.

Plateau Mountains are often found near folded mountains. As years pass, streams and rivers erode valleys through the plateau, leaving mountains standing between the valleys. Example of Plateau Mountains includes:

The mountains in New Zealand are examples of Plateau Mountains.

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