What is a Mountain ? | Types, Definition, Structure, Function & Facts

What is a Mountain?

A mountain is a geological feature that rises above the surrounding land. Typically, a mountain will be at least 1,000 feet above sea level. Some mountains exceed 10,000 feet above see level with the highest mountain in the world, Mount Everest, rising 29,036 feet. Small mountains (under 1,000 feet) are often called hills.

How are Mountains Formed?

Mountains are usually formed by the movement of tectonic plates in the earth’s crust. Large mountain ranges such as the Himalayas often form along the boundaries of these plates.

The tectonic plates move very slowly. It can take millions of years for mountains to form. Types of mountains

Types of Mountains

There are three main types of mountains: Folding mountains, Fault block Mountains, and volcanoes. They get their name from the way they were formed.

Fold Mountains – Fold mountain is formed when two plates collide or collide with each other. The force of the two plates collided causing the earth’s crust to crumble and fold. Many of the world’s great mountain ranges are fold mountains, including the Andes, Himalayas, and Rockies.

Fault-Block Mountains – Fault block Mountains form along faults where some large rocks are pushed up while others are pushed down. The upper area is sometimes called the “horst” and the lower area the “graben” (see figure below). The Sierra Nevada mountain range in the western United States is a fault mountain range.

Volcanic Mountains – Mountains caused by volcanic activity are called volcanoes. There are two main types of volcanoes: volcanoes and domes. Volcanoes form when magma erupts onto the Earth’s surface. The magma will harden on the Earth’s surface, forming a mountain.

The Dome Mountains form when large amounts of magma accumulate below the Earth’s surface. This forces the rock above the magma to bulge, forming a mountain. Examples of volcanoes include Mount Fuji in Japan and Mount Mauna Loa in Hawaii.

Mountain Features

Arete – A narrow ridge formed when two glaciers erode opposite sides of a mountain.

Cirque – A bowl-shaped depression formed by the head of a glacier usually at the base of a mountain.

Crag – A rock formation protruding from a rock face or cliff. Face – Very steep mountainside.

Glacier – An mountain glacier formed by snow compacting into ice.

Leeward side – The leeward side of a mountain opposite the windward side. It is protected from wind and rain by the mountain.

Horn – A horn is a pointed crest formed by several glaciers.

Moraine – A collection of rocks and soil left behind by a glacier.

Pass – A valley or path between mountains.

Peak – The highest point of a mountain.

Ridge – A long, narrow peak of one or more mountain ranges.

Slope – Mountainside.

Interesting Facts about Mountains

A mountain can be home to many different biomes, including temperate forests, taiga, tundra, and grasslands.

About 20% of the Earth’s surface is covered with mountains.

There are mountains and ranges in the ocean. Many islands are actually mountain peaks.

Altitudes above 26,000 feet are called the “death zone” because there isn’t enough oxygen to support human life.

The scientific study of mountains is called orology.

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