Compare and contrast folded, upwarped, fault-block, and volcanic mountains.

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1 Earth s Landforms Lesson Objectives Differentiate between plains and plateaus. Compare and contrast folded, upwarped, fault-block, and volcanic mountains. Be SURE TO COMPLETE the activities at the end of the chapter - some are links click on them PAGE!10

2 Vocabulary plain plateau folded mountain upwarped mountain fault-block mountain volcanic mountain Introduction Plains There are a lot of interesting landforms around the world. A landform is a feature that makes up the shape of the land at Earths surface. Figure 3-1 shows the three basic types of land. forms: plains, plateaus, and mountains. We all know what mountains are. In our minds, we can see tall peaks reaching towards the sky. But what do you think of when you hear the word plains? You might think of endless flat fields of wheat or grass. That would be accurate, because many plains are used to grow crops. Plains are large, relatively flat areas. Plains found near the ocean are called coastal plains. Flat, grassy areas used to grow crops or for grazing are also plains. Together, these two types of plains make up one half of all the land in the United States. Coastal Plains Coastal plains are broad areas along the oceans shore. They are often called lowlands because of their low elevations. Elevation refers to distance above or below sea level. As you might guess, sea level has zero elevation. The Atlantic Coastal Plain is a good example of this type of landform. It stretches along the East Coast of the United States. This area is characterized by low rolling hills, swamps, and marshes. A marsh grassy wetland, usually flooded with water. PAGE!11

3 Figure Three basic types of landforms are plains, plateaus, and mountains. If you hiked along the Atlantic Coastal Plain, you would realize it isn't perfectly flat. Many low hills and valleys have been carved by rivers. What do you suppose caused the Atlantic Coastal Plain to form? It actually began forming under water about 70 million years ago from sediments composed of marine organisms that fell to the ancient ocean floor. When sea level dropped, the plain was exposed. Another example of this landform is the Gulf Coastal Plain. It includes the lowlands in the southern United States that surround the Gulf of Mexico. Much of this plain was formed from sediments deposited by the Mississippi River as it entered the Gulf of Mexico. Interior Plains A large portion of the center of the United States is called the interior plains. The interior plains of the United States are shown in Figure 3-2. They extend PAGE!12

4 Figure 3-2 The United States is made up of eight major landforms. from the Appalachian Mountains in the east to the Rocky Mountains in the west, to the Gulf Coastal Plain in the south. They include the rolling hills of the Great Lakes area and the Central Lowlands around the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. A large portion of the interior plains is referred to as the Great Plains. They lie between the Mississippi lowlands and the Rocky Mountains. They are called high plains because of their elevation. They range from 350 meters above sea level at their eastern border to 1500 meters above sea level at their western boundary. The Great Plains are covered with nearly horizontal layers of loose materials eroded from the Rocky Mountains. Streams deposited these sediments over the course of the last 28 million years. PAGE!13

5 Plateaus If you would like to explore some higher regions, you might be interested in going to the second basic type of landform---- a plateau. Plateaus are relatively flat, raised areas of land. They are areas made up of nearly horizontal rocks that have been uplifted by forces within Earth. Plateaus are different from plains in that they rise steeply from the land around them. A good example of a plateau in the United States is the Colorado Plateau, which lies just west of the Rocky Mountains. As Figure 3-3 shows, the Colorado River has cut deeply into the rock layers of the plateau, forming the Grand Canyon. Because the Colorado Plateau is located in a very dry region, only a few permanent rivers have developed on its surface. If you hiked around on this plateau, you would see a desert landscape. Figure 3-3 Rivers cut deep into the Colorado Plateau Mountains Plains and plateaus are relatively flat. If you want to tackle a steep rock face, you must go to the third basic type of landform a mountain. Mountains rise PAGE!14

6 Figure 3-4 Folded mountains form when rock layers are squeezed from both sides high above the surrounding land, often providing a spectacular view from the top. The world's highest mountain peak is Mount Everest, in the Himalayan Mountains. It is more than 8800 meters above sea level. By contrast, mountain peaks in the United States reach over 6000 meters. Mountains vary greatly in size and in how they are formed. The four main types of mountains are folded, upwarped, fault-block, and volcanic. Folded Mountains The first mountains we will investigate are folded mountains. If you ever travel through a road cut in the Appalachian Mountains, you'll see rock layers PAGE!15

7 that are folded like the ones in Figure 3-4. Folded rock layers look like a rug that has been pushed up against a wall. What do you think caused this to happen? Tremendous forces inside Earth force rock layers together. When rock layers are squeezed from opposite sides, they buckle and fold into folded mountains. You'll learn more about the forces that create mountains in later Chapters. The Appalachian Mountains are folded mountains that formed in this way 300 to 250 million years ago. They are the oldest mountains in North America and also one of the longest ranges, stretching from Newfoundland, Canada, south to Alabama. At one time, the Appalachians were higher than the Rocky Mountains, but weathering and erosion have worn them down to less than 2000 meters above sea level. Figure 3-5 Upwarped mountains form when crust is pushed up by forces inside the Earth. PAGE!16

8 Upwarped Mountains The southern Rocky Mountains in Colorado and New Mexico, the Black Hills in South Dakota, and Adirondak Mountains in New York are upwarped mountains. These mountains were formed when crust was pushed up by forces inside Earth. Over time, the sedimentary rock on top of the crust eroded, leaving behind the igneous and metamorphic rock underneath. These igneous and metamorphic rocks then eroded to form sharp peaks and ridges, as shown in Figure 3-5. Fault-Block Mountains The Grand Teton Mountains of Wyoming, the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California, Steens and Hart Mountain in Oregon formed in yet another way. Fault-block mountains are made of huge tilted blocks of rocks that are separated from surrounding rock by faults. A fault is a large crack in rocks along which there is movement. As Figure 3-6 shows, when these mountains formed, One block was tilted and pushed up. The other block was pushed own. If you decide to go to the Tetons or Steens Mountain you will see the Figure 3-6 Fault-block mountains are created when faults occur.some rock blocks move up, others move down. sharp, peaks characteristic of fault-block mountains. PAGE!17

9 Volcanic Mountains Mt. St. Helens in Washington and Mauna Loa in Hawaii are two of many volcanic mountains in the United States. Volcanic mountains like the one shown in Figure 5-7 begin when molten material reaches the surface through a weak area of the crust. The materials pile up, one layer on top of other, until a cone-shaped structure forms. The Hawaiian Islands are just the peaks of huge volcanoes that stick out above the water. Plains, plateaus, and mountains offer a wide variety of landforms to explore. They range from low coastal plains Figure 3-7 mountains formed when molten and high desert plateaus to material oozes from earth s crust and forms a cone mountain ranges thousands of shaped structure. meters high. PAGE!18

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