How are these mountains formed?
The earth’s crust is made up of large plates called tectonic plates that fit into each
other. These plates keep moving a few centimetres every year. Mountains form
along the boundaries where the tectonic plates move towards each other
(convergent boundaries). The tectonic plates collide triggering deformation and
thickening of the crust. This in turn leads to crustal uplift and mountain formation.
This process is a horizontal compression that leads to deformation folding and
faulting of layers into folds or wrinkles along the convergent plate boundaries. This
crustal uplift can be either a hill or a mountain depending upon the height and
slope of the formation. But also to balance the weight of the earth surface, much of
the compressed rock is forceddownward, producing deep mountain roots making
mountains for both upward and downward.
Convergence due to converging plates can be either continental-oceanic
convergence, oceanic-oceanic convergence or continental-continental convergence.
1. When a plate of continental crust converges with a plate of oceanic crust,
the heavier oceanic crust will move under the continental crust and this
process is called subduction. This is the process through which mountains
and volcanoes are formed when the subducted oceanic crust is melted and
recycled to the surface (e.g. West coast of North and South America).
2. When a place of oceanic crust converges with another plate of oceanic crust,
the older crust will subduct under the newer crust that is less dense leading
to volcanic ring islands (e.g. Japanese islands).
3. When two plates of continental crusts come into contact with each other,
neither of them will subduct beneath the other due to their densities. So this
collision leads to formation of big mountains with fragments of oceanic
sediments in them even in the highest peaks (e.g. Alps in Europe, Himalayas
Types of mountains:
Mountains can be classified into five different basic types based on the cause that
formed the mountain, type of rocks, shape and placement on land.
Fold Mountains (Folded Mountains)
Fault-block Mountains (BlockMountains)
These are the most common types of mountains. These are formed when two
continental tectonic plates collide and their edges crumble to form mountains. The
crust is uplifted forming folds on top of the other. Vast mountain ranges stretching
across thousands of kilometres areFold Mountains. The Rocky Mountains in North
America, the Alps in Europe, the Andes in South America, the Urals in Russia and
the Himalayan Mountains in Asia are examples of Fold Mountains.
The Fault-block Mountains or block mountains are created when faults or cracks in
the Earth's crust force materials or blocks of rocks upward or down. The uplifted
blocks are Block Mountains or horsts. The intervening dropped blocks are
calledgraben, which can be small or form rift valley systems. These block
mountains break up into chunks or blocks and move either up or down. When they
move apart blocks of rock get stacked on one another Fault-block Mountains
usually have a steep front side and then a sloping back side. The Sierra Nevada
Mountains in North America and the Harz Mountains in Germany are examples of
Dome Mountains are also called Upwarped Mountains. These mountains are
formed when large amounts of molten rock or magma push the earth’s crust from
underneath. The magma in this case never reaches the top surface of the earth. So
even before it can erupt the source of magma goes away leaving the pushed up
Rock as such. This rock then cools and forms a mountain. With time the mountain
forms a dome shape, where it gets warped due to erosion. The Black hills of South
Dakota in the USA and the Adirondack Mountains in New York are examples for
Volcanic mountains are created by volcanoes as the name suggests. They are
created when magma pushes its way from beneath the earth to the crust, and when
it reaches the surface, it erupts as lava, ash, rocks and volcanic gases. These
erupting materials build around the vent through which they erupted. These
mountains are then shaped by further eruptions, lava flows, and collapses. Mount
Fuji in Japan, MountRainer in the US, including Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea on
the Big Island of Hawaii are examples of volcanic mountains.
Plateau Mountains are formed by Erosion. These are large areas of high levels of
flat land, over 600 meters above sea level formed due to earth’s internal activity.
Over billions of years, the rivers can cut deep into a plateau and make tall
mountains. These mountains are found near Fold Mountains. The mountains in
New Zealand and the Catskills of New York are examples of Plateau Mountains.
The highest mountain on Earth is Mount Everest in the Himalayas. Mauna Loa,
stands taller than Mount Everest when measured from its base on the ocean
floor but not in terms of summit altitude. The tallest mountain in the solar
system is Olympus Mons, located on Mars.
Mountains and mountain ranges throughout the world have been left in their
natural state, and are primarily used for recreation, while others are used for
logging, mining, grazing. Hiking, backpacking, mountaineering, rock climbing,
ice climbing, downhill skiing, and snowboarding are recreational activities
enjoyed on mountains.