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Major Landforms of the Earth

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Landforms refer to the physical features which are present on the surface of the earth. It includes mountains, plateaus, and plains. Natural processes which include the weathering, water, sinking, elevation, and erosion of soil leads to the constant re-shaping of the surface of the earth and take thousands of years to formulate. Landforms are originated from geological processes:

External Process

External processes include external factors like rain or wind and it causes both erosion and deposition. Erosion refers to the processes in sediments that get deposited or dropped off in different areas.

Internal Process

Internal process refers to those processes which occur within the surface of the earth and examples include volcanic eruptions and also movement of tectonic plates.

What are Landforms?

A landform refers to a natural or artificial feature made of the solid surface of Earth or other planetary bodies. A terrain is made up of landforms together, and their arrangement in the landscape is known as topography.

Major Landforms of the Earth

Major Landforms of the Earth

Factors Affecting The Formation of Major Landforms

Two processes continuously wear out the landscape- weathering and erosion. Weathering refers to the process of breaking the rocks on the surface of the earth. Erosion refers to the process of wearing away the landscape with the help of different agents like water, wind, and ice. The portion of material eroded is carried away or transported by agents of water, wind, and ice and is deposited eventually. This process creates different landforms on the earth.

Factors Affecting formation of Landforms

Factors Affecting Formation of Landforms

Work of River

The water running in the river erodes the landscape, and when it tumbles at a steep angle over some hard rocks, it forms a waterfall. As the river twists and turns, forming bends known as meanders. Due to the continuous process of erosion and deposition along the sides of the meander, the ends of the loop come closer, and over the course of time, the loop cuts and forms a cut-off lake called an oxbow lake.

At times, rivers overflow their banks and lead to the flooding of areas nearby. As the flooding continues, deposits layers of fine soil and other materials known as sediments along its bank. This led to the formation of floodplains and raised banks known as levees. As the river approaches the sea, the speed of the water decreases, and it breaks into a number of streams, which are known as distributaries. Each distributary forms its own mouth, and the collection of sediments from the mouth is called a delta.

Work of Sea Waves

The process of erosion and deposition of sea waves leads to the rise of coastal landforms. Cracks develop as sea waves strike the rocks continuously, and they become bigger and wider over time; thus, hollow-like caves are formulated and are known as sea caves, and as the cavities become bigger, only the roof of the caves remains and forms sea arches.

Erosion further breaks the roof, and walls remain and are called stacks. The steep rocky coast rising vertically above sea water is called a sea cliff, and sea waves deposit sediments along the shores to form what is known as beaches.

Work of Ice

Glaciers refer to “rivers of ice,” which erode the landscape by bulldozing soil and stones to expose solid rock; below, the glaciers crave deep hollows, and as the ice melts, they are filled up with water and become lakes. The deposits carried by the glaciers form glacial moraines.

Work of Wind

The wind is the active form of erosion and deposition in deserts. In deserts, rocks in the shape of mushrooms are seen, known as mushroom rocks. Winds erode the upper portion more than the lower portion, and hence bottom is narrow and wider at the top. When the wind stops blowing, the sand falls and gets deposited in low hill structures known as sand dunes. When such sands are deposited in large amounts, it is called loess.

Processes Shaping The Major Landforms 

There are numerous physical features on the surface of the Earth known as landforms. On Earth, there are at least three major kinds of landforms: mountains, plateaus, and plains. In addition to height, enduring, sinking, water, and soil degradation, the Earth’s surface is continually shaped by natural cycles. It isn’t something that just happens. It will take thousands or even hundreds of years for these changes to take effect. Different kinds of landforms will emerge from these cycles. Topographical cycles are responsible for bringing about landforms. 

Natural processes like weathering, water, elevation, sinking, and erosion of soil are responsible for the formation of landforms. Let us understand the processes which lead to its formation:

External Process

As outside variables like rain or wind impact the climatic system, they are regarded as outer interactions. Two of these factors are erosion and deposition. Erosion and deposition are regular cycles that alter the Earth’s outer layer. Simply described, deposition is a process in which silt is maintained or deposited in a new position. Erosion is a process in which the sediments get deposited in different locations.

Internal Process

Inward cycles are phenomena that occur under the Earth’s outer layer, such as beneath the surface, as the name indicates. You may also want to think about volcanoes and plate tectonics. The immense heat in the Earth’s core causes the liquid stone in the mantle layer to move, resulting in these phenomena. As a result, on a superficial level, uneven development. These layers can either uplift or depress the viewer.

Types of Major Landforms on the Earth

Landforms are mostly classified into three groups based on their elevation and slope:

  1. Mountains
  2. Plateaus
  3. Plains

1. Mountains

A mountain refers to the elevated portion on the surface of the earth’s crust, generally with steep sides that show significantly exposed bedrock. A mountain usually differs from a plateau in having only a limited summit area and is usually larger than a hill, typically rising at least 300 meters above the surrounding land. Most of the mountains occur in ranges.

Types of mountains

Types of Mountain

Due to less temperature, mountains often have snow on them, which makes it difficult for lives to prosper. Because of such harsh climatic conditions, these landforms are naturally formed and abode undiscovered flora and fauna. Popular types of mountains are:

Fold Mountains

Fold mountains arise when two structural plates contact and their edges ‘crease’ as a result of the immense push force between them. Researchers categorize the fold mountains into ‘youthful overlay’ and ‘old crease’ mountains based on their age. Between 10 and 25 million years old are the more youthful overlays. 

Think about Nepal’s Himalayas, the Alps in Europe, and South America’s Andes. This ancient wrinkled type of rock has been around for more than 200 million years. Among them are the Aravalli Mountains in India and the Ural Mountains in Russia. 

Block Mountains

Large sections of rock fragments dislodge upward to create block mountains. This huge area of rock can span several kilometers due to structural and confined loads within the Earth’s hull. Grabens refer to the pulled-down blocks, whereas Horsts are the raised squares. Their appearance is similar to a piano key. In Europe, square mountains are found in the Rhine Valley and the Vosges Mountains.

Volcanic Mountains

Magna ascension structures from the earth’s mantle to the crust Mountains formed by volcanoes. Models include Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Fuji.

Importance of Mountains

Mountains are useful to us in many different ways. They are storehouses of water, and many rivers have their roots in glaciers in these mountains. Reservoirs are established, and the water is harnessed for the use of people. 

Water from the mountains is also used for irrigation and also generates hydroelectricity also has a wide variety of flora and fauna. Forests also provide fuel, fodder, shelter, and also tourist sites.

2. Plateaus

The plateaus are elevated flatlands. Overall, it is level land that towers over the surrounding region. They may also have steep slants on at least one side. Furthermore, their level varies from two or three hundred meters to a few thousand meters depending on the level.



India’s most recognizable level is the Deccan Plateau. Magma is the primary driving force behind their generation, so they are volcanic. As a continuation of the Deccan Plateau, India’s Chotanagpur level can be reached. It benefits minerals such as iron metal, manganese, and coal.

The African and Tibetan levels are included in many models. African countries are well known for their mining of precious stones and gold. In addition, the Tibetan level is the highest on the earth. The cascade is triggered by level areas. Hundru, for example, is in the Chotanagpur level, while Jog is in Karnataka. Furthermore, these landforms serve as additional habitats for the travel industry as well as beautiful exercises.

Importance of Plateaus

The most important aspect of plateaus is that they are rich in mineral deposits. Most minerals are found in this plateau, like gold and diamond, which have huge monetary importance. Waterfalls are also present in some plateaus, and water is a basic need of humans.

Also, plateaus are characterized by plenty of grass, which is important for nomadic lifestyles and essential fodder for animals.

3. Plains

Plains are the best places to grow. Generally, plains are not more than 200 meters above mean sea level. They are fertile areas normally and are heavily populated. They are mostly level land that stretches off into the distance. These pieces of land are appropriate for human settlement as well as agricultural and poultry enterprises.

Waterways and their feeders demolish mountains as they run down them, creating structure fields. They collect silt in valleys and along with their courses. These have structural fields in them. India’s Indo-Gangetic fields are the country’s most heavily inhabited areas. As should be evident, there is a life where there is water.



Importance of Plains

Plains are one of the most important features of human habitation. It consists of areas of building houses, construction of a transport network as well as for cultivation be made easier. Plains are of great importance in the field of agriculture and contribute immensely to fertility, which facilitates crop growth.

The economic importance of plains is huge when traversed by rivers. Plains also provide good communication routes like railways, roads, and airports and a good sources of mineral resources.

Related Links

  1. Evolution of Landforms
  2. Volcanic Landforms
  3. Natural Environment
  4. Relief Features of India

FAQs On Major Landforms Of The Earth

Q 1. What are the major landforms of the earth?


Mountains, plateaus, and plains are the major landforms of the earth.

Q 2. What is the oldest plateau in India?


The oldest plateau in India includes India’s Deccan region which is one of the oldest plateaus in India.

Q 3. Which mountain is the Himalayas?


Himalayas are folded mountains.

Q 4. What is the purpose of the plateau?


The plateaus are very useful to mankind and include farming, raising livestock, and crop cultivation among other activities.

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Last Updated : 19 May, 2023
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