Landforms

Discovering Geology – Geological processes

BGS scientist collecting samples from Mt Holt for cosmogenic dating to help determine the rate of thinning of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet since the Last Glacial Maximum.
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BGS scientist collecting samples from Mt Holt, Antactica for cosmogenic dating to help determine the rate of thinning of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet since the Last Glacial Maximum. Source – BGS © UKRI

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Landforms are features on the Earth’s surface that make up the terrain such as mountains, valleys, plains or plateaux. They also include coastal features such as peninsulas or bays and underwater features such as ocean basins and mid-ocean ridges.

Landforms are categorised by their physical attributes such as elevation, orientation, slope, rock exposure and soil type and can also be organised by the processes that create them. Here are some examples of landforms and the different ways they can be created.

E. of Prestatyn. Looking S.
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Sand dunes in deserts or beaches are aeolian landforms, the result of accumulation of loose sand by the wind carrying and depositing sand grains – BGS © UKRI

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A sand dune is an aeolian landform, one that is formed by the wind.

Charleshill Peninsula, Braefoot Bay, South Fife.
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Charleshill Peninsula, Braefoot Bay, Fife.

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A peninsula is a type of coastal landform. It is a piece of land almost entirely surrounded by water but connected to the mainland on one side.

Utah Course, Monitor and Merrimac Butte area.
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Monitor and Merrimac Buttes, Utah, USA. Source: BGS © UKRI

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A butte, an isolated hill with steep sides, is a type landform created by erosion and weathering.

An impact crater, a depression formed by a collision of a large object with the Earth’s surface, is a type of impact landform.

A U-shaped valley is an example of a glacial landform, carved by slowly moving glaciers.

U-shaped valley
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A U-shaped valley is an example of a glacial landform, carved by slowly moving glaciers. Glencoe, Scotland – © Gil Cavalcanti, Wikimedia Commons.

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Deep oceanic trenches are a type of tectonic landform, formed where one tectonic plate is subducted beneath another.

Mount Fuji - Tomáš Malík
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Example of a volcanic cone – Mount Fuji, Japan. Source: Tomáš Malík / Pexels

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A volcanic cone is the most recognisable volcanic landform, built from the materials erupted from a volcanic vent.

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Alluvial fans at Andes Mountain. Photo by Eurico Zimbres.

Deposition

Deposition is the laying down of sediment carried by wind, water, or ice.

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1/4 m. SE of New Bridge, Military Road. Looking WNW.

Relief

Relief is the term used for the differences in height across the land’s surface.

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Henfield Brickworks Clay-pit, showing subaerial weathering.

Weathering

Weathering is the wearing down or breaking of rocks while they are in place.

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Wood River, Chiloquin, South Oregon.

Erosion

Erosion involves the movement of rock fragments through gravity, wind, rain, rivers, oceans and glaciers.

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