Earth Sciences: Types of Landforms

The surface of earth is a collaboration of the various physical features. These natural physical features on the earth’s surface called as landforms.  Landforms are defined as the natural physical features found on the surface of the earth created as a result of various forces of nature such as wind, water, ice, and movement of tectonic plates. Some landforms are created in a matter of few hours, while others take millions of years to appear.

There are many types of landforms on the earth’s surface. Following are some of the common types of landforms and their characteristics.

Mountains

Mountains are landforms higher than the surrounding areas. They are formed due to the tectonic movements, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and erosion of the surrounding areas caused due to wind, water and ice. Mountains are found in the oceans and on land.

Plateaus

Plateaus are flat highlands that are separated from the surroundings due to steep slopes. They are formed by collisions of tectonic plates, magma action that causes the elevation in earth’s crust.

Valleys

Valleys are low-lying areas of land between hills and mountains that are formed due to the actions of glaciers and rivers over millions of years. Depending on the shape they are classified as V shaped valleys and U shaped valleys. V-shaped valleys are formed by the flowing rivers and U-shaped valleys are formed due to glaciers.

Deserts

Due to lack of adequate rainfall, desert is a dry piece of land with little or no vegetation. They are mostly found mainly in rain shadow areas which are leeward of a mountain range with respect to the wind direction. In deserts, the atmospheric air is very dry, and daytime temperature is high.

Dunes

Dunes are mounds or small hills made up of sand that are created due to the action of and water flow (under water dunes). It may be dome-shaped, crescent-shaped, star-shaped, linear-shaped, and many more. The height of a dune hill can be as low as 1 meter, or as high as 10 meter and more.

Islands

An island is a piece of land which is surrounded by water from all sides and formed either due to volcanic eruptions or due to hot spots in the lithosphere.

Plains

Plains are flat or the low relief areas on the surface of the earth. It might be formed as a result of the sedimentation of eroded soil from the top of the hills and mountains or might be due to flowing lava deposited by the agents of wind, water, and ice.

Rivers

Rivers are natural flowing streams of fresh water descending from mountains. They mostly flow toward a lake, sea, ocean or another river.

Oceans

Oceans are the biggest water bodies found on earth and are saline in nature. Oceans cover over 71% of the earth’s surface and are responsible in controlling the weather and climate of the earth. Oceans originated due to continental drifts i.e. the movement of the earth’s tectonic plates.

Loess

Loess are deposition of silt, with a little amount of sand and clay. They appear yellowish or brownish in color. Wind action or glacial activities are responsible for formation of loess.

Glaciers

Glaciers are slow moving huge bodies of ice formed due to the compression of the snow layers. They move depending on the pressure and gravity. There are two types of glaciers, the alpine glaciers which can be located in high mountains and the continental glaciers which can be located in cold Polar regions.

Peninsulas

Peninsulas are large land areas that extend into water bodies. They remain surrounded by water on three sides. Peninsulas are formed by lithospheric movements and action of water currents.

Deltas

Deltas are low-lying, triangle-shaped areas, located at the mouth of rivers. In the course of creating a delta, the sand, silt, and rock particles are accumulated in a nearly triangular shape.

Image source: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/types-of-landforms.html

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