Mountain

Mountain

Overview


Image:Himalaya_annotated.jpg|thumb|right|The Himalayan mountain range
Mountain range
A mountain range is a single, large mass consisting of a succession of mountains or narrowly spaced mountain ridges, with or without peaks, closely related in position, direction, formation, and age; a component part of a mountain system or of a mountain chain...

 with Mount Everest
Mount Everest
Mount Everest is the world's highest mountain, with a peak at above sea level. It is located in the Mahalangur section of the Himalayas. The international boundary runs across the precise summit point...


rect 58 14 160 49 Chomo Lonzo
Chomo Lonzo
Chomo Lonzo is a mountain in Tibet, 5 km northeast of Makalu in the Mahalungur or Khumbu Himalayas. Alternate spellings of the same name include Chomolonzo, Chomolönzo, Chomo Lönzo, Jomolönzo, and Lhamalangcho....


rect 200 28 335 52 Makalu
Makalu
Makalu is the fifth highest mountain in the world at and is located southeast of Mount Everest, on the border between Nepal and China...


rect 378 24 566 45 Mount Everest
Mount Everest
Mount Everest is the world's highest mountain, with a peak at above sea level. It is located in the Mahalangur section of the Himalayas. The international boundary runs across the precise summit point...


rect 188 581 920 656 Tibetan Plateau
Tibetan Plateau
The Tibetan Plateau , also known as the Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau is a vast, elevated plateau in Central Asia covering most of the Tibet Autonomous Region and Qinghai, in addition to smaller portions of western Sichuan, southwestern Gansu, and northern Yunnan in Western China and Ladakh in...


rect 250 406 340 427 Rong River
rect 333 149 409 186 Changtse
Changtse
Changtse is a mountain situated between the Main Rongbuk and East Rongbuk Glaciers in Tibet immediately north of Mount Everest. It is connected to Mount Everest via the North Col....


rect 550 284 677 303 Rongbuk Glacier
Rongbuk Glacier
Image:Himalaya_annotated.jpg|thumb|250px|right|Rongbuk Glacier and Mount Everest as seen from the International Space Station.rect 58 14 160 49 Chomo Lonzorect 200 28 335 52 Makalurect 378 24 566 45 Mount Everestrect 188 581 920 656 Tibetan Plateau...


rect 478 196 570 218 North Face
Mount Everest
Mount Everest is the world's highest mountain, with a peak at above sea level. It is located in the Mahalangur section of the Himalayas. The international boundary runs across the precise summit point...


rect 237 231 346 267 East Rongbuk Glacier
rect 314 290 536 309 North Col north ridge route
Mount Everest
Mount Everest is the world's highest mountain, with a peak at above sea level. It is located in the Mahalangur section of the Himalayas. The international boundary runs across the precise summit point...


rect 531 79 663 105 Lhotse
Lhotse
Lhotse is the fourth highest mountain on Earth and is connected to Everest via the South Col. In addition to the main summit at 8,516 metres above sea level, Lhotse Middle is and Lhotse Shar is...


rect 582 112 711 130 Nuptse
Nuptse
Nuptse is a mountain in the Khumbu region of the Mahalangur Himal, in the Nepalese Himalayas. It lies two kilometres WSW of Mount Everest. Nuptse is Tibetan for "west peak", as it is the western segment of the Lhotse-Nuptse massif....


rect 603 232 733 254 South Col route
South Col
The South Col usually refers to the southern col between Mount Everest and Lhotse, the first and fourth highest mountains in the world. When climbers attempt to climb Everest from the southeast ridge in Nepal, their final camp is situated on the South Col...


rect 716 165 839 206 Gyachung Kang
Gyachung Kang
Gyachung Kang is a mountain in the Mahalangur Himal section of the Himalaya, and is the highest peak between Cho Oyu and Mount Everest . It lies on the border between Nepal and China...


rect 882 147 967 183 Cho Oyu
Cho Oyu
Cho Oyu is the sixth highest mountain in the world at above sea level. Cho Oyu lies in the Himalayas and is 20 km west of Mount Everest, at the border between China and Nepal...


rect 1 1 999 661
desc bottom-left

A mountain is a large landform
Landform
A landform or physical feature in the earth sciences and geology sub-fields, comprises a geomorphological unit, and is largely defined by its surface form and location in the landscape, as part of the terrain, and as such, is typically an element of topography...

 that stretches above the surrounding land in a limited area usually in the form of a peak.
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Image:Himalaya_annotated.jpg|thumb|right|The Himalayan mountain range
Mountain range
A mountain range is a single, large mass consisting of a succession of mountains or narrowly spaced mountain ridges, with or without peaks, closely related in position, direction, formation, and age; a component part of a mountain system or of a mountain chain...

 with Mount Everest
Mount Everest
Mount Everest is the world's highest mountain, with a peak at above sea level. It is located in the Mahalangur section of the Himalayas. The international boundary runs across the precise summit point...


rect 58 14 160 49 Chomo Lonzo
Chomo Lonzo
Chomo Lonzo is a mountain in Tibet, 5 km northeast of Makalu in the Mahalungur or Khumbu Himalayas. Alternate spellings of the same name include Chomolonzo, Chomolönzo, Chomo Lönzo, Jomolönzo, and Lhamalangcho....


rect 200 28 335 52 Makalu
Makalu
Makalu is the fifth highest mountain in the world at and is located southeast of Mount Everest, on the border between Nepal and China...


rect 378 24 566 45 Mount Everest
Mount Everest
Mount Everest is the world's highest mountain, with a peak at above sea level. It is located in the Mahalangur section of the Himalayas. The international boundary runs across the precise summit point...


rect 188 581 920 656 Tibetan Plateau
Tibetan Plateau
The Tibetan Plateau , also known as the Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau is a vast, elevated plateau in Central Asia covering most of the Tibet Autonomous Region and Qinghai, in addition to smaller portions of western Sichuan, southwestern Gansu, and northern Yunnan in Western China and Ladakh in...


rect 250 406 340 427 Rong River
rect 333 149 409 186 Changtse
Changtse
Changtse is a mountain situated between the Main Rongbuk and East Rongbuk Glaciers in Tibet immediately north of Mount Everest. It is connected to Mount Everest via the North Col....


rect 550 284 677 303 Rongbuk Glacier
Rongbuk Glacier
Image:Himalaya_annotated.jpg|thumb|250px|right|Rongbuk Glacier and Mount Everest as seen from the International Space Station.rect 58 14 160 49 Chomo Lonzorect 200 28 335 52 Makalurect 378 24 566 45 Mount Everestrect 188 581 920 656 Tibetan Plateau...


rect 478 196 570 218 North Face
Mount Everest
Mount Everest is the world's highest mountain, with a peak at above sea level. It is located in the Mahalangur section of the Himalayas. The international boundary runs across the precise summit point...


rect 237 231 346 267 East Rongbuk Glacier
rect 314 290 536 309 North Col north ridge route
Mount Everest
Mount Everest is the world's highest mountain, with a peak at above sea level. It is located in the Mahalangur section of the Himalayas. The international boundary runs across the precise summit point...


rect 531 79 663 105 Lhotse
Lhotse
Lhotse is the fourth highest mountain on Earth and is connected to Everest via the South Col. In addition to the main summit at 8,516 metres above sea level, Lhotse Middle is and Lhotse Shar is...


rect 582 112 711 130 Nuptse
Nuptse
Nuptse is a mountain in the Khumbu region of the Mahalangur Himal, in the Nepalese Himalayas. It lies two kilometres WSW of Mount Everest. Nuptse is Tibetan for "west peak", as it is the western segment of the Lhotse-Nuptse massif....


rect 603 232 733 254 South Col route
South Col
The South Col usually refers to the southern col between Mount Everest and Lhotse, the first and fourth highest mountains in the world. When climbers attempt to climb Everest from the southeast ridge in Nepal, their final camp is situated on the South Col...


rect 716 165 839 206 Gyachung Kang
Gyachung Kang
Gyachung Kang is a mountain in the Mahalangur Himal section of the Himalaya, and is the highest peak between Cho Oyu and Mount Everest . It lies on the border between Nepal and China...


rect 882 147 967 183 Cho Oyu
Cho Oyu
Cho Oyu is the sixth highest mountain in the world at above sea level. Cho Oyu lies in the Himalayas and is 20 km west of Mount Everest, at the border between China and Nepal...


rect 1 1 999 661
desc bottom-left

A mountain is a large landform
Landform
A landform or physical feature in the earth sciences and geology sub-fields, comprises a geomorphological unit, and is largely defined by its surface form and location in the landscape, as part of the terrain, and as such, is typically an element of topography...

 that stretches above the surrounding land in a limited area usually in the form of a peak. A mountain is generally steeper than a hill
Hill
A hill is a landform that extends above the surrounding terrain. Hills often have a distinct summit, although in areas with scarp/dip topography a hill may refer to a particular section of flat terrain without a massive summit A hill is a landform that extends above the surrounding terrain. Hills...

. The adjective montane is used to describe mountainous areas and things associated with them. The study of mountains is called Orography
Orography
Orography is the study of the formation and relief of mountains, and can more broadly include hills, and any part of a region's elevated terrain...

.
Exogeology
Planetary geology
Planetary geology, alternatively known as astrogeology or exogeology, is a planetary science discipline concerned with the geology of the celestial bodies such as the planets and their moons, asteroids, comets, and meteorites...

 deals with planetary mountains, which in that branch of science are usually called montes (singular—mons). The highest mountain on Earth based from sea level is Mount Everest
Mount Everest
Mount Everest is the world's highest mountain, with a peak at above sea level. It is located in the Mahalangur section of the Himalayas. The international boundary runs across the precise summit point...

 (8848 m (29,029 ft)) in the Himalayas
Himalayas
The Himalaya Range or Himalaya Mountains Sanskrit: Devanagari: हिमालय, literally "abode of snow"), usually called the Himalayas or Himalaya for short, is a mountain range in Asia, separating the Indian subcontinent from the Tibetan Plateau...

 of Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

. The highest known mountain in the Solar System
Solar System
The Solar System consists of the Sun and the astronomical objects gravitationally bound in orbit around it, all of which formed from the collapse of a giant molecular cloud approximately 4.6 billion years ago. The vast majority of the system's mass is in the Sun...

 is Olympus Mons
Olympus Mons
Olympus Mons is a large volcanic mountain on the planet Mars. At a height of almost , it is one of the tallest mountains in the Solar System, three times as tall as Mount Everest and more than twice the height of Mauna Kea the tallest mountain on Earth. Olympus Mons is the youngest of the large...

 on the planet Mars
Mars
Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun in the Solar System. The planet is named after the Roman god of war, Mars. It is often described as the "Red Planet", as the iron oxide prevalent on its surface gives it a reddish appearance...

 at 21171 m (69,459 ft). Mountains and mountain range
Mountain range
A mountain range is a single, large mass consisting of a succession of mountains or narrowly spaced mountain ridges, with or without peaks, closely related in position, direction, formation, and age; a component part of a mountain system or of a mountain chain...

s on Earth are typically formed by the movement and/or interaction of lithospheric plates.

Definition


There is no universally accepted definition of a mountain. Elevation, volume, relief, steepness, spacing and continuity have been used as criteria for defining a mountain. In the Oxford English Dictionary
Oxford English Dictionary
The Oxford English Dictionary , published by the Oxford University Press, is the self-styled premier dictionary of the English language. Two fully bound print editions of the OED have been published under its current name, in 1928 and 1989. The first edition was published in twelve volumes , and...

 a mountain is defined as "a natural elevation of the earth surface rising more or less abruptly from the surrounding level and attaining an altitude which, relatively to the adjacent elevation, is impressive or notable."

Whether a landform is called a mountain may depend on usage among the local people. The highest point in San Francisco, California
San Francisco, California
San Francisco , officially the City and County of San Francisco, is the financial, cultural, and transportation center of the San Francisco Bay Area, a region of 7.15 million people which includes San Jose and Oakland...

, is called Mount Davidson, notwithstanding its height of 300 m (984.3 ft), which makes it ten feet short of the minimum for a mountain by American designations. Similarly, Mount Scott
Mount Scott (Oklahoma)
Mount Scott is a prominent mountain just to the northwest of Lawton Oklahoma rising to a height of above sea level. It is located in the Wichita Mountains near Fort Sill Military Reservation and lies in the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge. The US Fish and Wildlife Service is responsible...

 outside Lawton, Oklahoma
Lawton, Oklahoma
The city of Lawton is the county seat of Comanche County, in the U.S. state of Oklahoma. Located in the southwestern region of Oklahoma approximately southwest of Oklahoma City, it is the principal city of the Lawton Oklahoma Metropolitan Statistical Area...

 is only 251 m (823.5 ft) from its base to its highest point.

Definitions of "mountain" include:
  • Height over base of at least 2500 m (8,202 ft);
  • Height over base of 1500 m (4,921 ft).–2500 m (8,202 ft). with a slope greater than 2 degrees
  • Height over base of 1000 m (3,281 ft).–1500 m (4,921 ft). with a slope greater than 5 degrees
  • Local (radius 7000 m (22,966 ft). elevation greater than 300 m (984 ft)., or 300 m (984 ft)–1000 m (3,281 ft). if local (radius 7000 m (22,966 ft). elevation is greater than 300 m (984 ft).

By this definition, mountains cover 64% of Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

, 25% of Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

, 22% of South America
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

, 17% of Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, and 3% of Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

. As a whole, 24% of the Earth's land mass is mountainous and 10% of people live in mountainous regions. Most of the world's rivers are fed from mountain sources, and more than half of humanity depends on mountains for water.

Characteristics


Tall mountains reach into the colder layers of the atmosphere. They are consequently subject to glaciation, and erosion
Erosion
Erosion is when materials are removed from the surface and changed into something else. It only works by hydraulic actions and transport of solids in the natural environment, and leads to the deposition of these materials elsewhere...

 through frost action. Such processes produce the peak
Pyramidal peak
A pyramidal peak, or sometimes in its most extreme form called a glacial horn, is a mountaintop that has been modified by the action of ice during glaciation and frost weathering...

 shape. Some mountains have glacial lake
Glacial lake
A glacial lake is a lake with origins in a melted glacier. Near the end of the last glacial period, roughly 10,000 years ago, glaciers began to retreat. A retreating glacier often left behind large deposits of ice in hollows between drumlins or hills. As the ice age ended, these melted to create...

s, created by melting glaciers; for example, there are an estimated 3,000 glacial lakes in Bhutan
Bhutan
Bhutan , officially the Kingdom of Bhutan, is a landlocked state in South Asia, located at the eastern end of the Himalayas and bordered to the south, east and west by the Republic of India and to the north by the People's Republic of China...

. Mountains can be eroded
Erosion
Erosion is when materials are removed from the surface and changed into something else. It only works by hydraulic actions and transport of solids in the natural environment, and leads to the deposition of these materials elsewhere...

 and weathered
Weathering
Weathering is the breaking down of rocks, soils and minerals as well as artificial materials through contact with the Earth's atmosphere, biota and waters...

, altering their characteristics over time.

Tall mountains have different climatic conditions at the top than at the base, and will thus have altitudinal zonation
Altitudinal zonation
Altitudinal zonation in mountainous regions describes the natural layering of ecosystems that occurs at distinct altitudes due to varying environmental conditions. Temperature, humidity, soil composition, and solar radiation are important factors in determining altitudinal zones, which consequently...

 of ecosystems. At the highest elevations, trees cannot grow, and whatever life may be present will be of the alpine
Alpine climate
Alpine climate is the average weather for a region above the tree line. This climate is also referred to as mountain climate or highland climate....

 type, resembling tundra
Tundra
In physical geography, tundra is a biome where the tree growth is hindered by low temperatures and short growing seasons. The term tundra comes through Russian тундра from the Kildin Sami word tūndâr "uplands," "treeless mountain tract." There are three types of tundra: Arctic tundra, alpine...

. Just below the tree line, one may find subalpine
Subalpine
The subalpine zone is the biotic zone immediately below tree line around the world. Species that occur in this zone depend on the location of the zone on the Earth, for example, Snow Gum in Australia, or Subalpine Larch, Mountain Hemlock and Subalpine Fir in western North America.Trees in the...

 forests of needleleaf
Pinophyta
The conifers, division Pinophyta, also known as division Coniferophyta or Coniferae, are one of 13 or 14 division level taxa within the Kingdom Plantae. Pinophytes are gymnosperms. They are cone-bearing seed plants with vascular tissue; all extant conifers are woody plants, the great majority being...

 trees, which can withstand cold, dry conditions. In regions with dry climates, the tendency of mountains to have higher precipitation as well as lower temperatures also provides for varying conditions, which in turn leads to differing flora and fauna. Some plants and animals found in these zones tend to become isolated since the conditions above and below a particular zone will be inhospitable and thus constrain their movements or dispersal
Biological dispersal
Biological dispersal refers to species movement away from an existing population or away from the parent organism. Through simply moving from one habitat patch to another, the dispersal of an individual has consequences not only for individual fitness, but also for population dynamics, population...

. On the other hand, birds, being capable of flight, may take advantage of montane habitats and migrate
Bird migration
Bird migration is the regular seasonal journey undertaken by many species of birds. Bird movements include those made in response to changes in food availability, habitat or weather. Sometimes, journeys are not termed "true migration" because they are irregular or in only one direction...

 into a region that would otherwise not provide appropriate habitat. These isolated ecological systems, or microclimate
Microclimate
A microclimate is a local atmospheric zone where the climate differs from the surrounding area. The term may refer to areas as small as a few square feet or as large as many square miles...

s, are known as sky island
Sky island
Sky islands are mountains that are isolated by surrounding lowlands of a dramatically different environment, a situation which, in combination with the altitudinal zonation of ecosystems, has significant implications for natural habitats. Endemism, vertical migration, and relict populations are...

s.

Mountains are generally colder than their surrounding lowlands due to the way that the sun heats the surface of the Earth. Practically all the heat at the surface of the Earth comes from the sun, in the form of solar energy. The sun's radiation is absorbed by land and sea, whence the heat is transferred into the air. Static air is a poor conductor of heat, so conduction
Heat conduction
In heat transfer, conduction is a mode of transfer of energy within and between bodies of matter, due to a temperature gradient. Conduction means collisional and diffusive transfer of kinetic energy of particles of ponderable matter . Conduction takes place in all forms of ponderable matter, viz....

 of heat from the ground to the atmosphere is negligible. Heat is mainly transferred into the atmosphere through convection
Convection
Convection is the movement of molecules within fluids and rheids. It cannot take place in solids, since neither bulk current flows nor significant diffusion can take place in solids....

 and radiation
Radiation
In physics, radiation is a process in which energetic particles or energetic waves travel through a medium or space. There are two distinct types of radiation; ionizing and non-ionizing...

. The air immediately adjacent to the warmed surface will rise due to its buoyancy
Buoyancy
In physics, buoyancy is a force exerted by a fluid that opposes an object's weight. In a column of fluid, pressure increases with depth as a result of the weight of the overlying fluid. Thus a column of fluid, or an object submerged in the fluid, experiences greater pressure at the bottom of the...

, leading to convective circulation, in the form of thermal
Thermal
A thermal column is a column of rising air in the lower altitudes of the Earth's atmosphere. Thermals are created by the uneven heating of the Earth's surface from solar radiation, and are an example of convection. The sun warms the ground, which in turn warms the air directly above it...

s, within the lowest layer of the atmosphere, the troposphere
Troposphere
The troposphere is the lowest portion of Earth's atmosphere. It contains approximately 80% of the atmosphere's mass and 99% of its water vapor and aerosols....

. When heat radiates from the surface of the earth, it is released as long-wave radiation, which can move freely through gases composed of diatomic molecules (such as the atmosphere's oxygen and nitrogen), but is readily absorbed by triatomic molecules, such as carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring chemical compound composed of two oxygen atoms covalently bonded to a single carbon atom...

 and water vapor
Water vapor
Water vapor or water vapour , also aqueous vapor, is the gas phase of water. It is one state of water within the hydrosphere. Water vapor can be produced from the evaporation or boiling of liquid water or from the sublimation of ice. Under typical atmospheric conditions, water vapor is continuously...

. Since most of the atmosphere's quantity of such triatomic gases is contained within the troposphere, this portion of the atmosphere is readily heated by the earth's radiation. The tropopause forms a blanket of air keeping the surface warm. This is the Greenhouse Effect
Greenhouse effect
The greenhouse effect is a process by which thermal radiation from a planetary surface is absorbed by atmospheric greenhouse gases, and is re-radiated in all directions. Since part of this re-radiation is back towards the surface, energy is transferred to the surface and the lower atmosphere...

. The higher the altitude, the less of this blanket there is to keep in the heat. Thus, higher elevations, such as mountains, are colder than surrounding lowlands. Air temperature in the lowest layer of the atmosphere, the troposphere
Troposphere
The troposphere is the lowest portion of Earth's atmosphere. It contains approximately 80% of the atmosphere's mass and 99% of its water vapor and aerosols....

, decreases with gains in altitude. The rate at which the temperature drops with elevation, called the environmental lapse rate
Lapse rate
The lapse rate is defined as the rate of decrease with height for an atmospheric variable. The variable involved is temperature unless specified otherwise. The terminology arises from the word lapse in the sense of a decrease or decline; thus, the lapse rate is the rate of decrease with height and...

, is not constant (it can fluctuate throughout the day or seasonally and also regionally), but a normal lapse rate is 5.5°C per 1,000 m (3.57°F per 1,000 ft). The temperature continues to drop with increasing altitude, until the tropopause
Tropopause
The tropopause is the atmospheric boundary between the troposphere and the stratosphere.-Definition:Going upward from the surface, it is the point where air ceases to cool with height, and becomes almost completely dry...

 (11,000m or 36,089 ft in the U.S. Standard Atmosphere, where it does not decrease further. However, this is higher than the highest mountaintop.

Mountains are generally less preferable for human
Human
Humans are the only living species in the Homo genus...

 habitation than lowlands; the weather is often harsher, and there is little level ground suitable for agriculture
Agriculture
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

. The decreasing atmospheric pressure means that less oxygen is available for breathing, and there is less protection against solar radiation (UV
Ultraviolet
Ultraviolet light is electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength shorter than that of visible light, but longer than X-rays, in the range 10 nm to 400 nm, and energies from 3 eV to 124 eV...

). Acute mountain sickness (caused by hypoxia
Hypoxia (medical)
Hypoxia, or hypoxiation, is a pathological condition in which the body as a whole or a region of the body is deprived of adequate oxygen supply. Variations in arterial oxygen concentrations can be part of the normal physiology, for example, during strenuous physical exercise...

—a lack of oxygen in the blood) affects over half of lowlanders who spend more than a few hours above 3500 metres (11,482.9 ft).

Many mountains and mountain range
Mountain range
A mountain range is a single, large mass consisting of a succession of mountains or narrowly spaced mountain ridges, with or without peaks, closely related in position, direction, formation, and age; a component part of a mountain system or of a mountain chain...

s throughout the world have been left in their natural state, and are today primarily used for recreation
Recreation
Recreation is an activity of leisure, leisure being discretionary time. The "need to do something for recreation" is an essential element of human biology and psychology. Recreational activities are often done for enjoyment, amusement, or pleasure and are considered to be "fun"...

, while others are used for logging
Logging
Logging is the cutting, skidding, on-site processing, and loading of trees or logs onto trucks.In forestry, the term logging is sometimes used in a narrow sense concerning the logistics of moving wood from the stump to somewhere outside the forest, usually a sawmill or a lumber yard...

, mining
Mining
Mining is the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth, from an ore body, vein or seam. The term also includes the removal of soil. Materials recovered by mining include base metals, precious metals, iron, uranium, coal, diamonds, limestone, oil shale, rock...

, grazing
Grazing
Grazing generally describes a type of feeding, in which a herbivore feeds on plants , and also on other multicellular autotrophs...

, or see little use. Some mountains offer spectacular views from their summits, while others are densely wooded. Summit accessibility is affected by height, steepness, latitude, terrain, weather. Road
Road
A road is a thoroughfare, route, or way on land between two places, which typically has been paved or otherwise improved to allow travel by some conveyance, including a horse, cart, or motor vehicle. Roads consist of one, or sometimes two, roadways each with one or more lanes and also any...

s, ski lift
Ski lift
The term ski lift generally refers to any transport device that carries skiers up a hill. A ski lift may fall into one of the following three main classes:-Lift systems and networks:...

s, or aerial tramway
Aerial tramway
An aerial tramway , cable car , ropeway or aerial tram is a type of aerial lift which uses one or two stationary ropes for support while a third moving rope provides propulsion...

s allow access. Hiking
Hiking
Hiking is an outdoor activity which consists of walking in natural environments, often in mountainous or other scenic terrain. People often hike on hiking trails. It is such a popular activity that there are numerous hiking organizations worldwide. The health benefits of different types of hiking...

, backpacking
Backpacking (wilderness)
Backpacking combines the activities of hiking and camping for an overnight stay in backcountry wilderness...

, mountaineering
Mountaineering
Mountaineering or mountain climbing is the sport, hobby or profession of hiking, skiing, and climbing mountains. While mountaineering began as attempts to reach the highest point of unclimbed mountains it has branched into specialisations that address different aspects of the mountain and consists...

, rock climbing
Rock climbing
Rock climbing also lightly called 'The Gravity Game', is a sport in which participants climb up, down or across natural rock formations or artificial rock walls. The goal is to reach the summit of a formation or the endpoint of a pre-defined route without falling...

, ice climbing
Ice climbing
Ice climbing, as the term indicates, is the activity of ascending inclined ice formations. Usually, ice climbing refers to roped and protected climbing of features such as icefalls, frozen waterfalls, and cliffs and rock slabs covered with ice refrozen from flows of water. For the purposes of...

, downhill skiing, and snowboarding
Snowboarding
Snowboarding is a sport that involves descending a slope that is covered with snow on a snowboard attached to a rider's feet using a special boot set onto mounted binding. The development of snowboarding was inspired by skateboarding, sledding, surfing and skiing. It was developed in the U.S.A...

 are recreational activities enjoyed on mountains. Mountains that support heavy recreational use (especially downhill skiing) are often the locations of mountain resort
Mountain resort
A mountain resort is a place to holiday or vacation located in a mountainous area. The term includes ski resorts, where winter sports, including skiing, snowboarding, ice climbing and ice skating are practiced, as well as places where summer activities such as mountain biking, mountain boarding,...

s.

Mountains are made up of earth and rock materials. The outermost layer of the Earth or the Earth's crust is composed of seven primary plates
Plate tectonics
Plate tectonics is a scientific theory that describes the large scale motions of Earth's lithosphere...

. When two plates move or collide each other, vast land areas are uplifted, forming mountains.

Types



Classified by the geological processes that shape them, there are five major types of mountains:


Fold mountains: Fold mountain
Fold mountain
Fold mountains are mountains formed mainly by the effects of folding on layers within the upper part of the Earth's crust. In the time before either plate tectonic theory developed, or the internal architecture of thrust belts became well understood, the term was used for most mountain belts, such...

s are the most common type of mountains. They are formed due to collision of two plates, causing folding of the Earth's crust. Examples of fold mountains are the Himalayas
Himalayas
The Himalaya Range or Himalaya Mountains Sanskrit: Devanagari: हिमालय, literally "abode of snow"), usually called the Himalayas or Himalaya for short, is a mountain range in Asia, separating the Indian subcontinent from the Tibetan Plateau...

 of Asia and the Alps
Alps
The Alps is one of the great mountain range systems of Europe, stretching from Austria and Slovenia in the east through Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Germany to France in the west....

 in Europe.

Fault-Block mountains: As the name suggests, fault-block mountain
Fault-block mountain
Fault-block landforms are formed when large areas of bedrock are widely broken up by faults creating large vertical displacements of continental crust....

s or fault mountains are formed when blocks of rock materials slide along faults in the Earth's crust. There are two types of block mountains, namely the lifted and tilted. Lifted mountains have two steep sides; whereas, the tilted type has one steep side and a gentle sloping side. Examples of fault-block mountains are found in the Sierra Nevada mountain range of the western United States.

Volcanic mountains: Volcanic mountain
Volcano
2. Bedrock3. Conduit 4. Base5. Sill6. Dike7. Layers of ash emitted by the volcano8. Flank| 9. Layers of lava emitted by the volcano10. Throat11. Parasitic cone12. Lava flow13. Vent14. Crater15...

s are formed due to volcanic eruptions where magma piles up on the surface of the Earth. Examples of volcanoes include Mount Fuji
Mount Fuji
is the highest mountain in Japan at . An active stratovolcano that last erupted in 1707–08, Mount Fuji lies about south-west of Tokyo, and can be seen from there on a clear day. Mount Fuji's exceptionally symmetrical cone is a well-known symbol of Japan and it is frequently depicted in art and...

 in Japan and Mount Pinatubo
Mount Pinatubo
Mount Pinatubo is an active stratovolcano located on the island of Luzon, near the tripoint of the Philippine provinces of Zambales, Tarlac, and Pampanga. It is located in the Tri-Cabusilan Mountain range separating the west coast of Luzon from the central plains, and is west of the dormant and...

 in the Philippines. Inactive or extinct volcanic mountain include Mount Elbrus
Mount Elbrus
Mount Elbrus is an inactive volcano located in the western Caucasus mountain range, in Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachay-Cherkessia, Russia, near the border of Georgia. Mt. Elbrus's peak is the highest in the Caucasus, in Russia...

 in Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, Mount Kinabalu
Mount Kinabalu
Mount Kinabalu is a prominent mountain on the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia. It is located in the East Malaysian state of Sabah and is protected as Kinabalu National Park, a World Heritage Site. Kinabalu is the tallest peak in Borneo's Crocker Range and is the tallest mountain in the Malay...

 in Malaysia, Cotopaxi
Cotopaxi
Cotopaxi is a stratovolcano in the Andes Mountains, located about south of Quito, Ecuador, South America. It is the second highest summit in the country, reaching a height of...

 in Ecuador
Ecuador
Ecuador , officially the Republic of Ecuador is a representative democratic republic in South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. It is one of only two countries in South America, along with Chile, that do not have a border...

 and Aconcagua
Aconcagua
Aconcagua is the highest mountain in the Americas at . It is located in the Andes mountain range, in the Argentine province of Mendoza and it lies west by north of its capital, the city of Mendoza. The summit is also located about 5 kilometres from San Juan Province and 15 kilometres from the...

 in Argentina
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

/

Dome mountains: Dome mountains
Dome (geology)
In structural geology, a dome is a deformational feature consisting of symmetrically-dipping anticlines; their general outline on a geologic map is circular or oval...

 are formed when the hot magma rises from the mantle and uplifts the overlying sedimentary layer of the Earth's crust. In the process, the magma is not erupted, but it cools down and forms the core of the mountain. They are called dome mountains due to their appearance that resembles a dome shape. An example of a dome mountain is Navajo Mountain
Navajo Mountain
Navajo Mountain is a peak in San Juan County, Utah, with its southern flank extending into Coconino County, Arizona. It holds an important place in the traditions of three local Native American tribes.-Geologic history:...

 in the U.S. state of Utah.

Plateau mountains: Plateau
Plateau
In geology and earth science, a plateau , also called a high plain or tableland, is an area of highland, usually consisting of relatively flat terrain. A highly eroded plateau is called a dissected plateau...

 mountains are formed erosion
Erosion
Erosion is when materials are removed from the surface and changed into something else. It only works by hydraulic actions and transport of solids in the natural environment, and leads to the deposition of these materials elsewhere...

 of an uplifted plateau. Examples of plateau mountains are in the Adirondack Mountains
Adirondack Mountains
The Adirondack Mountains are a mountain range located in the northeastern part of New York, that runs through Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Hamilton, Herkimer, Lewis, Saint Lawrence, Saratoga, Warren, and Washington counties....

 in the U.S. state of New York.

Geology



A mountain is usually produced by the movement of lithospheric plates, either orogenic movement
Orogeny
Orogeny refers to forces and events leading to a severe structural deformation of the Earth's crust due to the engagement of tectonic plates. Response to such engagement results in the formation of long tracts of highly deformed rock called orogens or orogenic belts...

 or epeirogenic movement
Epeirogenic movement
In geology, epeirogenic movement refers to upheavals or depressions of land exhibiting long wavelengths and little folding apart from broad undulations. The broad central parts of continents are called cratons, and are subject to epeirogeny. The movement may be one of subsidence toward, or of...

. Compressional forces, isostatic
Isostasy
Isostasy is a term used in geology to refer to the state of gravitational equilibrium between the earth's lithosphere and asthenosphere such that the tectonic plates "float" at an elevation which depends on their thickness and density. This concept is invoked to explain how different topographic...

 uplift and intrusion of igneous matter
Igneous rock
Igneous rock is one of the three main rock types, the others being sedimentary and metamorphic rock. Igneous rock is formed through the cooling and solidification of magma or lava...

 forces surface rock upward, creating a landform higher than the surrounding features. The height of the feature makes it either a hill or, if higher and steeper, a mountain. The absolute heights of features termed mountains and hills vary greatly according to an area's terrain
Terrain
Terrain, or land relief, is the vertical and horizontal dimension of land surface. When relief is described underwater, the term bathymetry is used...

. The major mountains tend to occur in long linear arcs, indicating tectonic plate boundaries and activity. Two types of mountain are formed in this way depending on how the rock reacts to the tectonic forces, — fold mountains or fault-block mountain
Fault-block mountain
Fault-block landforms are formed when large areas of bedrock are widely broken up by faults creating large vertical displacements of continental crust....

s. Other mountain building processes include volcano
Volcano
2. Bedrock3. Conduit 4. Base5. Sill6. Dike7. Layers of ash emitted by the volcano8. Flank| 9. Layers of lava emitted by the volcano10. Throat11. Parasitic cone12. Lava flow13. Vent14. Crater15...

es and sea floor spreading.

Fold mountains


Compressional forces in continental collisions may cause the compressed region to thicken and fold, with material forced both upwards and downwards. Since the less dense continental crust
Continental crust
The continental crust is the layer of igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks which form the continents and the areas of shallow seabed close to their shores, known as continental shelves. This layer is sometimes called sial due to more felsic, or granitic, bulk composition, which lies in...

 "floats" (cf iceberg
Iceberg
An iceberg is a large piece of ice from freshwater that has broken off from a snow-formed glacier or ice shelf and is floating in open water. It may subsequently become frozen into pack ice...

) on the denser mantle
Mantle (geology)
The mantle is a part of a terrestrial planet or other rocky body large enough to have differentiation by density. The interior of the Earth, similar to the other terrestrial planets, is chemically divided into layers. The mantle is a highly viscous layer between the crust and the outer core....

 rocks beneath, the weight of any crustal material forced upward to form hills, plateau
Plateau
In geology and earth science, a plateau , also called a high plain or tableland, is an area of highland, usually consisting of relatively flat terrain. A highly eroded plateau is called a dissected plateau...

s or mountains must be balanced by the buoyancy force (see isostasy
Isostasy
Isostasy is a term used in geology to refer to the state of gravitational equilibrium between the earth's lithosphere and asthenosphere such that the tectonic plates "float" at an elevation which depends on their thickness and density. This concept is invoked to explain how different topographic...

) of a much greater volume forced downward into the mantle. Thus the continental crust is normally much thicker under mountains ( sometimes called "mountain roots"), compared to lower lying areas. However, in many continental collisions (e.g. the Himalayas
Himalayas
The Himalaya Range or Himalaya Mountains Sanskrit: Devanagari: हिमालय, literally "abode of snow"), usually called the Himalayas or Himalaya for short, is a mountain range in Asia, separating the Indian subcontinent from the Tibetan Plateau...

) part of one continent may simply override the other, crumpling in the process with the overridden crust forming much of the support. Mountains may similarly be partly supported by oceanic crust subducted beneath the continental crust (e.g. the Andes
Andes
The Andes is the world's longest continental mountain range. It is a continual range of highlands along the western coast of South America. This range is about long, about to wide , and of an average height of about .Along its length, the Andes is split into several ranges, which are separated...

 as the Nazca plate flows beneath the South American Plate
South American Plate
The South American Plate is a continental tectonic plate which includes the continent of South America and also a sizeable region of the Atlantic Ocean seabed extending eastward to the Mid-Atlantic Ridge....

).

Fault-block mountain



Block mountains are created when large areas are widely broken up by faults creating large vertical displacements. This occurrence is fairly common. The uplifted blocks are block mountains or horsts. The intervening dropped blocks are termed graben
Graben
In geology, a graben is a depressed block of land bordered by parallel faults. Graben is German for ditch. Graben is used for both the singular and plural....

: these can be small or form extensive rift valley
Rift valley
A rift valley is a linear-shaped lowland between highlands or mountain ranges created by the action of a geologic rift or fault. This action is manifest as crustal extension, a spreading apart of the surface which is subsequently further deepened by the forces of erosion...

 systems. This form of landscape
Landscape
Landscape comprises the visible features of an area of land, including the physical elements of landforms such as mountains, hills, water bodies such as rivers, lakes, ponds and the sea, living elements of land cover including indigenous vegetation, human elements including different forms of...

 can be seen in East Africa
East Africa
East Africa or Eastern Africa is the easterly region of the African continent, variably defined by geography or geopolitics. In the UN scheme of geographic regions, 19 territories constitute Eastern Africa:...

, the Vosges
Vosges
Vosges is a French department, named after the local mountain range. It contains the hometown of Joan of Arc, Domrémy.-History:The Vosges department is one of the original 83 departments of France, created on February 9, 1790 during the French Revolution. It was made of territories that had been...

, the Basin and Range
Basin and Range
The Basin and Range Province is a vast physiographic region defined by a unique topographic expression. Basin and Range topography is characterized by abrupt changes in elevation, alternating between narrow faulted mountain chains and flat arid valleys or basins...

 province of Western North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

 and the Rhine valley. These areas often occur when the regional stress is extensional and the crust
Crust (geology)
In geology, the crust is the outermost solid shell of a rocky planet or natural satellite, which is chemically distinct from the underlying mantle...

 is thinned.

Rock that does not fault may fold
Fold (geology)
The term fold is used in geology when one or a stack of originally flat and planar surfaces, such as sedimentary strata, are bent or curved as a result of permanent deformation. Synsedimentary folds are those due to slumping of sedimentary material before it is lithified. Folds in rocks vary in...

, either symmetrically or asymmetrically. The upfolds are anticline
Anticline
In structural geology, an anticline is a fold that is convex up and has its oldest beds at its core. The term is not to be confused with antiform, which is a purely descriptive term for any fold that is convex up. Therefore if age relationships In structural geology, an anticline is a fold that is...

s
and the downfolds are syncline
Syncline
In structural geology, a syncline is a fold, with younger layers closer to the center of the structure. A synclinorium is a large syncline with superimposed smaller folds. Synclines are typically a downward fold, termed a synformal syncline In structural geology, a syncline is a fold, with younger...

s
: in asymmetric folding there may also be recumbent and overturned folds. The Jura Mountains
Jura mountains
The Jura Mountains are a small mountain range located north of the Alps, separating the Rhine and Rhone rivers and forming part of the watershed of each...

 are an example of folding. Over time, erosion
Erosion
Erosion is when materials are removed from the surface and changed into something else. It only works by hydraulic actions and transport of solids in the natural environment, and leads to the deposition of these materials elsewhere...

 can bring about an inversion of relief: the soft upthrust rock is worn away so the anticlines are actually lower than the tougher, more compressed rock of the synclines.

Volcanoes


Some isolated mountains are produced by volcano
Volcano
2. Bedrock3. Conduit 4. Base5. Sill6. Dike7. Layers of ash emitted by the volcano8. Flank| 9. Layers of lava emitted by the volcano10. Throat11. Parasitic cone12. Lava flow13. Vent14. Crater15...

es, including many apparently small island
Island
An island or isle is any piece of sub-continental land that is surrounded by water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atolls can be called islets, cays or keys. An island in a river or lake may be called an eyot , or holm...

s or seamount
Seamount
A seamount is a mountain rising from the ocean seafloor that does not reach to the water's surface , and thus is not an island. These are typically formed from extinct volcanoes, that rise abruptly and are usually found rising from a seafloor of depth. They are defined by oceanographers as...

s that reach a great height above the ocean
Ocean
An ocean is a major body of saline water, and a principal component of the hydrosphere. Approximately 71% of the Earth's surface is covered by ocean, a continuous body of water that is customarily divided into several principal oceans and smaller seas.More than half of this area is over 3,000...

 floor.

Mid-ocean ridges


The mid-ocean ridge
Mid-ocean ridge
A mid-ocean ridge is a general term for an underwater mountain system that consists of various mountain ranges , typically having a valley known as a rift running along its spine, formed by plate tectonics. This type of oceanic ridge is characteristic of what is known as an oceanic spreading...

s formed during sea-floor spreading are often referred to as undersea mountain ranges due to their bathymetric prominence.

See also


  • Latin names of mountains
    Latin names of mountains
    Users of Neo-Latin have taken the Latin language to places the Romans never went; hence a need arose to make Latin names of mountains that did not exist when Latin was a living language.-Strategies for constructing Latin names:-List of names:...

  • List of mountain types
  • List of highest mountains
  • List of mountain ranges
  • List of peaks by prominence
  • List of ski areas and resorts
  • Lists of mountains
  • Mountain building
  • Mountaineering
    Mountaineering
    Mountaineering or mountain climbing is the sport, hobby or profession of hiking, skiing, and climbing mountains. While mountaineering began as attempts to reach the highest point of unclimbed mountains it has branched into specialisations that address different aspects of the mountain and consists...


Further reading


  • Fraknoi, A., Morrison, D., & Wolff, S. (2004). Voyages to the Planets. 3rd Ed. Belmont: Thomson Books/Cole.