A mountain range
or hill range
is a series of mountains
ranged in a line and connected by high ground. A mountain system
or mountain belt
is a group of mountain ranges with similarity in form, structure, and alignment that have arisen from the same cause, usually an orogeny
Mountain ranges are formed by a variety of geological processes, but most of the significant ones on Earth are the result of plate tectonics
. Mountain ranges are also found on many planetary mass objects in the Solar System
and are likely a feature of most terrestrial planets
, the highest mountain range on Earth, seen from space
The Ocean Ridge
, the world's longest mountain range (chain)
Most geologically young mountain ranges on the Earth's land surface are associated with either the Pacific Ring of Fire
or the Alpide Belt
. The Pacific Ring of Fire includes the Andes
of South America, extends through the North American Cordillera
along the Pacific Coast, the Aleutian Range
, on through Kamchatka
, the Philippines
, Papua New Guinea
, to New Zealand
The Andes is 7,000 kilometres (4,350 mi) long and is often considered the world's longest mountain system.
, the world's longest mountain range on the surface of the Earth, have a dramatic impact on the climate of South America
The position of mountain ranges influences climate, such as rain or snow. When air masses move up and over mountains, the air cools producing orographic
precipitation (rain or snow). As the air descends on the leeward side, it warms again (following the adiabatic lapse rate
) and is drier, having been stripped of much of its moisture. Often, a rain shadow
will affect the leeward side of a range.
As a consequence, large mountain ranges, such as the Andes
, compartmentalize continents into distinct climate regions
Mountain ranges are constantly subjected to erosional
forces which work to tear them down. The basins
adjacent to an eroding mountain range are then filled with sediments that are buried and turned into sedimentary rock
. Erosion is at work while the mountains are being uplifted until the mountains are reduced to low hills and plains.
The early Cenozoic
uplift of the Rocky Mountains
of Colorado provides an example. As the uplift was occurring some 10,000 feet (3,000 m) of mostly Mesozoic
were removed by erosion over the core of the mountain range and spread as sand and clays across the Great Plains
to the east.
This mass of rock was removed as the range was actively undergoing uplift. The removal of such a mass from the core of the range most likely caused further uplift as the region adjusted isostatically
in response to the removed weight.
Rivers are traditionally believed to be the principal cause of mountain range erosion, by cutting into bedrock and transporting sediment. Computer simulation has shown that as mountain belts change from tectonically active to inactive, the rate of erosion drops because there are fewer abrasive particles in the water and fewer landslides.
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Last edited on 21 April 2021, at 00:45
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