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Landform

Rivers, Glaciers, Wind, Chemical Dissolution And Precipitation, Differential Weathering And Erosion, VolcanismErosion and deposition, Tectonic landforms, Joint sets

A landform is a natural sculpture of the surface of the earth. Most landforms are produced by the actions of weathering and erosion, carving away material from higher elevations and depositing it down lower. Different kinds of rock erode at a variety of rates under particular climatic conditions. As softer rock is worn away the more resistant rock is exposed, producing another series of landforms. Other landforms develop from volcanic activity or movements along faults during earthquakes. Study of landforms reveals much about the deformation, stresses, and strains which have affected the rocks to date at Earth's surface.

Nature's sculpting tools are the agents of weathering, mass wasting, and erosion. Weathering breaks down bedrock into transportable fragments, mass wasting moves the fragments down hill, and erosion transports them in a number of different ways. Each process can produce characteristic landforms.


If nothing countered weathering and erosion, the continents would be reduced to sea level in a few million years. Tectonic processes, driven by the gradual movements of giant global plates, raise the elevations of parts of the continents, producing their own landforms.


Sometimes sets of fractures develop where the surface of the earth is stretched. Such fractures have no displacement along them, and are called joints. Weathering, particularly in arid regions, may exploit these joints, leaving a series of vertical slabs of rock. Continued weathering of these slabs can result in the formation of arches, such as those at Arches National Monument, in Utah.

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