India is a culturally and geographically diverse country. From the world’s second-highest peak Kanchanjunga (K2), Siachen Glaciers, the Thar Desert to the rainiest city of Cherrapunji, India has many impeccable geographical wonders to offer. It is also blessed with beautiful landscapes and landforms spread across the country. Curious to explore the major landforms of the earth? This blog will take you on an informational ride to discover the different landforms of our planet. This interesting topic is not only a part of the scholastic syllabus of class 6th but is an essential mention in the syllabus of many competitive exams like UPSC Exams etc. So, let’s walk you through the popular landforms of the earth and their salient features.
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What are Landforms?
Landforms are the physical features on the outer layer of the earth, i.e. it’s surface. The earth’s landforms take their actual shape naturally through various processes such as weathering, sinking, soil erosion, elevation, water etc. The major landforms of the earth are Mountains, Plateau and Plains.
The process of formation of these surfaces didn’t happen overnight and took over millions of years to take the shape they have now as these major landforms of the earth are created through the different geological processes. Under these natural phenomena, there are a variety of internal and external activities which take place such as Rain, Wind, Volcanic Eruptions etc which contribute to the formation of the landforms.
Recommended Read: Geography Syllabus
Formation of Landforms
There are two processes which lead to the formation of different landforms, namely:
- External Processes: this process relates to the continuous wearing down and rebuilding of the earth’s surface.
- Internal Process: this process deals with the movement of the earth’s surface and resulting in a portion of the earth’s surface getting either elevated or getting sunk.
- Weathering: it is the process by which rocks are broken down that can create sediments. There are 2 forces due to which weathering can occur i.e., chemical weathering and mechanical weathering. Weathering agents can be water, ice, wind, animals, growing plants etc.
- Erosion is the process by which natural forces acting on a weathered rock and soil move the weathered rock and soil from one place to another. It can be caused due to gravity, running water, glaciers, wind etc. the materials that are being moved due to erosion are called sediments.
- Deposition is the process which occurs when agents like wind or water of the erosion lay down the sediments. Hence, it changes the shape of the land. Example of deposition can be the formation of an island or sand dunes.
Major Landforms of the Earth
Considering the elevation and slopes, the major landforms of the earth can be bifurcated into three categories, namely Mountains, Plateaus and Plains. Mentioned below is the detailed analysis of each of these.
A preferred holiday destination of many, Mountains refer to those landmasses which are steeper and higher than a hill. Generally, mountains are above the height of 2,000 ft. The sloppy landmasses below the given height are often categorized as hills. As we go higher up the mountains, the atmospheric pressure tends to increase making the temperature dropdown. That’s why mountains have a colder temperature than other regions.
Due to less temperature, mountains often have snow on them, making it difficult for lives to prosper at such extreme conditions. Some mountains at great heights even have glaciers on them. The beautiful mountains in a line together are called range. Because of harsh weather conditions, these landforms of the Earth are naturally formed and abode to undiscovered flora and fauna. Here are the popular types of mountains:
Whenever the collision of tectonic plates takes place and the edges of these plates ‘fold’, Fold Mountains are created.
Whenever large areas break and get displaced vertically, it results in the formation of Block Mountains.
Volcanic Mountains are formed whenever the Magna rises above the earth’s crust.
Plateaus can be determined as the flat land which stands high above the surroundings. In other words, Plateaus are simply elevated flatlands. The height of a plateau can vary in 100 meters or many remain the same for a thousand meters. One of the major landforms of the earth, Plateaus are formed due to the lava inside the earth.
The most common plateau in India is the Deccan Plateau. Lying in the Chotanagpur region, Deccan Plateau is a famous reserve for a variety of minerals and ores. Apart from this, the famous plateau regions on the earth are Tibetan Plateau, African Plateau etc. The Africa Plateau is a hotspot of diamond mining whereas the Tibetan Plateau is the highest plateau in the world.
The long stretches of flat land are called Plains. Plains are regarded as highly fertile regions as they are the ideal geographical location for various human and agricultural activities including farming, poultry, etc.
Usually, Plains are formed due to rivers and their tributaries. In our country, the Indo-Gangetic plain is the most densely populated area.
A glacier is nothing but a huge mass or chunk of ice that moves slowly over land. They are often called ‘rivers of ice’ too. They are found in some of the very high mountains or places where the temperature is really low which allows the river to freeze. Glaciers are of two types:
- Alpine glaciers: these glaciers are formed at the mountainsides and move downward through the valleys. Examples can be Gorner Glacier in Switzerland.
- Ice sheets: on the contrary to the alpine glaciers, the ice sheets are not restricted or limited to the mountain areas. They form huge and broad domes that can spread out from their centres in all the direction. The largest ice sheet which covers most of the areas of Antarctica and the islands of Greenland are known as continental glaciers.
We hope that through this blog you are familiarised with the major landforms of the earth. Unsure about which stream to pursue after 10th? Reach out to our Leverage Edu experts and we will assist you in selecting the right stream which aligns with your preferences and interests.