Mountains often serve as geographic features that define natural borders of countries. Their height can influence weather patterns, stalling storms that roll off the oceans and squeezing water from the clouds. The other side is often much drier. The rugged landscapes even provide refuge—and protection—for fleeing and invading armies.
The mighty chunks rise all over the world, including the oceans. They usually have steep, sloping sides and sharp or rounded ridges, and a high point, called a peak or summit. Most geologists classify a mountain as a landform that rises at least 1,000 feet (300 meters) or more above its surrounding area. A mountain range is a series or chain of mountains that are close together.
When magma pushes the crust up but hardens before erupting onto the surface, it forms so-called dome mountains. Wind and rain pummel the domes, sculpting peaks and valleys. Examples include the Black Hills of South Dakota and the Adirondack Mountains of New York. Plateau mountains are similar to dome mountains, but form as colliding tectonic plates push up the land without folding or faulting. They are then shaped by weathering and erosion.
Other types of mountains form when stresses within and between the tectonic plates lead to cracking and faulting of the Earth’s surface, which forces blocks of rock up and down. Examples of fault-block mountains include the Sierra Nevada in California and Nevada, the Tetons in Wyoming, and the Harz Mountains in Germany.
Mountain Clip Art Images