You must have seen pictures and videos of natural landforms. Did you know how they are formed?
The surface of the earth, lithosphere, has many landforms. They differ from place to place depending on different weather conditions.
There are two processes behind the formation of these landforms.
The internal process: the ground moves on its own and leads to the sinking or raising of the land. It is slow and continuous and we can hardly feel it.
The external process: soil and debris are removed from one place for rebuilding at another.
The process of removing soil and debris is called erosion, whereas rebuilding is called deposition. These can be done by flowing wind, water and ice.
Landforms can be grouped into 3 categories, based on their elevation from ground level- mountains, plateaus and plains. Let’s learn more.
Mountains are the natural rise of land.
They are much higher than surrounding areas.
They are thousands of meters high.
Mountains vary in their height and shape.
Hills are lower elevations of land than mountains. A hill has a maximum height of 600 meters. Higher than that, they become mountains. Mount Everest is the highest mountain on earth.
As we go higher in the mountains, the temperature gets lower. This is why we can see ice and snow at the top.
On mountains, you find rivers of ice called glaciers. Very few people live there because of the low temperature. The slope of the mountains is not suitable for farming.
When many mountains are arranged in a line, they are called a mountain range. Himalayas are the biggest mountain range in the world.
There are three types of mountains in the world: Fold mountains, Block mountains and Volcanic mountains. The Himalayas and the Aravali range in India are fold mountains. They are formed by the folding of the earth, turning them into mountains.
When part of the earth’s crust breaks and moves up or sinks down, it forms block mountains. They may or may not have a pointed top. The elevated blocks are called horsts and the lowered blocks are graben. The Rhine valley and Vosges mountain in Europe are examples of block mountains.
The volcanic activities on earth give rise to volcanic mountains. Mount Fujiyama in Japan is one famous example.
Try to find these mountain ranges in your atlas book.
Mountains have freshwater stored in the form of ice caps and glaciers. It is the origin of many rivers. Freshwater provides water for irrigation and hydropower.
Mountains also have varieties of plants and animals which cannot be found in other places. They also provide many resources that we need in our life, such as resin, tree gum, etc.
You might know that tea and coffee also grow on mountains and hills?
In addition, mountains attract many tourists and travellers. They play many fun games and sports in snow and high places. Can you name some of them?
Plateaus are pieces of land that are higher than neighbouring areas. They have a completely flat surface at the top, just like a table. A plateau has at least one side with a very steep slope.
The height of a plateau varies from a few hundred meters to a few thousand. The Deccan Plateau of India is one of the oldest plateaus in the world, whereas the Tibet Plateau is the highest in the world.
Plateaus are very important resources. They have many minerals. They provide iron, coal, diamond, gold, etc. This is why many mining companies are located near plateaus.
Plateaus have many waterfalls and natural scenic views which attract many tourists throughout the year. The soil on plateaus are also rich for the cultivation of crops like wheat, maize and barley.
Plains are a large stretch of flat land almost at sea level. Many plains are formed by rivers when they bring the eroded soil, stone, sand and debris from mountains and deposit them in valleys. These deposits slowly gather together to form plains. Some of the biggest plains in the world are made by rivers.
Plains are fertile lands and many crops grow on them.
Building roads and means of transportation on plains is very easy.
This is why plains are the most densely populated areas in the world such as the area near River Ganga in India.
Although different landforms have their own unique qualities, there are differences in how people live there. Building houses and growing crops is easier on plains than on mountains. Such is the story of the three landforms.
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