Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 185

The Earth and the Universe

Stars are not scattered regularly in the space; they occur in clusters which are
called galaxies or nebulas. Milky Way, the earths galaxy contains about
100,000 million stars. Light takes about 4 years to reach earth, from the
nearest star, 8 minutes from the sun and 1 sec from the moon.
The Solar System
It consists of Sun and nine planets. It is formed by condensation of gases and
lesser particles. Planets revolve in elliptical orbits around sun. Temperature of
Sun at the surface is about 6000 C and at the core is about 20 million C. Sun is
about 300,000 times big as the earth.
Mercury It is Smallest and closest planet, only 36 million miles away from Sun.
A year is of just 88 days.
Venus- It is about 75 million miles (approx.) away from sun. Also, it is considered
to be the Earths twin because of similar size, mass, density.
Earth- It is about 93 million miles away from Sun and has a satellite, the moon,
which is about 2,98,900 miles away and takes 27 days to complete a revolution
around Earth while revolving eastwards (anti-clockwise).
Mars- It has dark patches and is expected to have some plants.
Jupiter- Biggest planet. Has circular light and dark band. Made up of gases like
hydrogen, helium and methane. Has 12 satellites and is about 485 million miles
away from Sun. Temperature is about -130 C.
Saturn- Second biggest planet. Has 3 rings and 9 satellites around it. Takes
29.5 years to complete a year.
Uranus- Faint bluish disc like when seen through a telescope. Around 50 times
bigger and 15 times heavier than Earth with 5 satellites revolving around it. Only
planet to revolve from east to west around sun (clock-wise direction).
Neptune Its discovery was the result of mathematical calculations of their
irregular gravitational effects on other planets. Similar to Uranus but having only 2

Pluto- Its discovery was the result of mathematical calculations of their irregular
gravitational effects on other planets. Smaller than Earth. Distance from Sun is
2,766 million miles during perihelion (when it is closest from Sun) and 4,566
million miles during aphelion (when it is closest from Sun).

The shape & size of the Earth

It is geoid (earth-shaped). Equatorial circumference is about 24,897 miles
which is 83 miles more than its polar circumference. Similarly, equatorial
diameter is 7,926 miles that is 26 miles longer than polar diameter.
Evidence of Earths Shape
Circum-navigation of the earth- The first Voyage around the world from
1519-1522 proved that Earth is spherical in shape.
The circular horizon- Horizon viewed from any altitude is circular in shape
and the width increases with increase in altitude which is possible only in
case of sphere.
Ships visibility- Entire ship is not visible at once. Mast is visible first when a
ship appears and then comes the hull and vice-versa.
Sunrise and Sunset- Sun rises and sets at different times in different place as
earth rotates from west to east which is possible only in case of sphere.
The Lunar eclipse- Outline of the shadow cast by earth on the moon during
lunar eclipse is always an arc of the circle.

Driving poles at equal interval- While driving poles at an equal interval, it is

found that they are not at the same not at the same horizontal level because
of the earths curvature. This is taken into account by surveyors and
engineers and some corrections are made; i.e. 8 inches per mile.
Aerial photograph- Photographs taken from space clearly show that earth is

The earths movement

Earth rotates about its axis from west to east once in 24 hours causing day and
night. Also, it revolves around sun from west to east in an orbit once in 365.25
days causing seasons and the year.
Day and Night
At a time, only a part of earth is exposed to the rays of sun and experience
daylight and the rest experience darkness. As the earth rotates from west to
east, all the parts get exposed or get obscured to the rays of Sun eventually, thus
causing Sunrise and Sunset respectively.
The Earths revolution
The earth spins around the sun at the speed of 66,600 miles per hour
completing a year in 365.25 days. But it is not possible to show a quarter of a day
on calendar, so a year is taken to be 365 days and 1 day is added every four
years as a leap year.

Varying length of day and night

The axis of rotation of earth is inclined at an angle to 66.5 degree to the elliptic
plane (plane of revolution) which causes this variation and causes seasons.

If axis were inclined at 90 degree to the ecliptic, all parts of globe would
experience equal length of day and night.

Northern hemisphere
During winter (December), the length of day decreases as we go northwards. At
the Arctic Circle (66.5 degree latitude), there remains darkness for the whole day
on 22nd December. The number of days with complete darkness increases as we
go northwards and there remains darkness for half a year at the North Pole.
During summer (June), the conditions are just reverse. At Arctic Circle, there
remains daylight for the whole day on 21st June. The number of days with
complete daylight increases as we move northwards. In summer the area above
Arctic Circle is called Land of the Mid-night Sun. At the North Pole, there is
six months of continuous daylight.

Southern hemisphere
Here, the conditions are just reverse. Winter/ mid-winter in Northern hemisphere
means summer/ mid-summer in southern hemisphere and vice versa.
The altitude of mid-day Sun
Because of the inclination (66.5 degree), the apparent altitude of mid-day sun
varies during a year.
Sun is vertically overhead at equator two times a year. Those periods are called
equinoxes, meaning equal day and night.
The times when sun is vertically overhead at the Tropic of cancer and Tropic of
Capricorn are called Summer Solstice and Winter Solstice respectively.
During Summer Solstice, the day is longest in Northern hemisphere and during
Winter Solstice the day is longest in southern hemisphere.

Tropics mark the limits, above which Sun is never vertically overhead. Regions
beyond tropics are marked by distinct seasons -summer, autumn, winter &
Within the tropics, as the altitude of Sun does not change much during a year,
the four seasons are indistinguishable. Length of day and night does not varies
much and is almost equal within tropics.
Beyond Arctic and Antarctic Circle, it is always cold as sun is never much high
in the sky.

Seasonal changes and their effects on temperature

During summer, Sun is higher in the sky and the rays of Sun fall nearly vertically
on the surface of earth causing heat to concentrate over small area. Also, days
are longer than nights in summer thus net heat is gained. All these factors lead to
increase in temperature during summer.
During winter, the conditions are reversed as the oblique rays of sun spread over
larger area and much of heat is initially absorbed by atmospheric impurities and
water molecules. Also, nights are longer than days. Thus, temperature is lowered.

Dawn and twilight

Dawn- Period between sunrise and complete daylight.
Twilight- Period between sunset and complete darkness.
These are caused as refracted or diffused rays of light of Sun reaches a region,
when the Sun is actually below the horizon.
Near equator, the spans of both are short as the Sun rises and sets in nearly
vertical path.
In temperate region, this span is longer as Sun rises and sets in oblique path.
At the poles, these spans are still longer so that winter darkness is really twilight
most of the time.

Mathematical location of a place

Parallels of Latitude- Set of lines running east and west, parallel to the equator.
Meridians of Longitude- Set of lines running from north to south and passing
through poles.
Intersection of these gives location of any place on the globe.
It is the angular distance of a point on earths surface, measured from the
centre of the earth with respect to the equator, which lies in the middle of north
and south poles.
Lines of latitude are drawn at an interval of 1 degree, which is sub-divided into 60
minutes and 1 minute is further sub-divided into 60 seconds for locating any place
The linear distance of a degree of latitude at poles are longer than at equator as
the earth is a little flattened near the poles. At equator it is about 68.7 miles per
degree and at poles, it is about 69.4 miles per degree. An average of 69 is used
for distance calculation.
Tropic of Cancer- 23.5 degree north. Tropic of Capricorn- 23.5 degree south. Arctic
& Antarctic Circle- 66.5 degree north and south.

It is the angular distance, measured in degrees, along the equator east or west
of the Prime or First Meridian. Lines of longitude are represented on the globe by a
semi-circles running from pole to pole passing through equator. It goes till 180
degree west and 180 degrees east as earth is a sphere.
In 1884, the meridian of longitude passing through Royal Astronomical
Observatory in Greenwich was internationally selected to be the reference line
of longitude, the Prime Meridian (Zero Meridian).
As the circles of latitude become smaller as we move towards the pole, the linear
distance of a degree varies from 69.1 miles at equator to 0 miles at poles. So, it is
not frequently used as a standard for distance calculation. (some facts are to be

Longitude and Time

Longitude is used to determine the Local Time of an area in relation to the

Greenwich Mean Time (G.M.T.), which is also called World Time.
Earth makes a rotation of 360 degrees in 24 hours while rotating from west to
east. Thus in 1 hour it rotates by 15 degrees and in 4 minutes by 1 degree.
As the earth rotates from west to east, local time is advanced as we go towards
east and conversely the local time retards as we go towards west.
Local Time = G.M.T. advancements/ retardation (1 degree = 4 minutes)

Standard Time and Time Zones

The world is divided into 24 Standard Time Zones, each of which differs from
the next by 15 degrees or 1 hour.
To avoid any kind of confusion regarding time among towns/ states, generally a
country adopts its Standard Time from the central meridian of the country. The
Indian Government has accepted the meridian of 82.5 degrees east for
Standard Time which is 5 hours 30 minutes ahead of G.M.T.
But due to peculiar location, shape and size of some countries the deviations from
Standard Times become unavoidable. Larger countries like U.S.S.R., Canada,
U.S.A. which have very large east-west stretch adopt several Standard Time
Zones for practical purposes.

U.S.S.R. which extends through about 165 degrees of longitude is divided into 11
Standard Time Zones.
Both Canada and U.S.A. are divided into 5 Standard Time Zones- the Atlantic,
Eastern, Central, Mountain and Pacific Time Zones with difference of about 5
hours between the Local Time of Atlantic and Pacific Coasts.

Union of Soviet Socialist Republics consisted of 15 Soviet Socialist Republics

with Moscow as its capital, which disintegrated under the pressure of west in
1991 at the end of Cold War.

The International Date Line

As we go 180 east of Prime Meridian, we become 12 hours ahead of GMT.
Conversely, going 180 west of Prime Meridian makes us 12 hours behind of GMT.
Thus, there comes a difference of 24 hours or 1 day between the two sides of 180
meridian. This is the International Date Line on crossing which the date

changes by 1 day. On crossing this line from east to west, one day is lost and viceversa.

The normal 180 degree meridian passes through various islands and places.
This will create confusion of the day and time in these places. To prevent these
confusions, the International Date Line is curved from normal 180 degree at
some places like Bering Strait, Fiji, Tonga and other groups of island. Some of
these adopt Asiatic date and time and the others adopt American date and time.

The Earths Crust

The structure of the Earth

Earth was formed about 4,500 million years ago. We came to know about the
structure of the earth from the evidence of volcanic eruption, Earthquake
waves, deep-mine operations and crustal boring.

Lithosphere (Crust)- Outermost part of the earth. It consists of two distinct partsContinental plate

Consists majorly of granitic rocks

Contains Silica & alumina (Sial)
Density is about 2.7
Forms continents

Oceanic plate

Continuous plate consisting majorly of Basaltic rocks

Contains silica, magnesium and iron (Sima)
Density = 3.0
Forms ocean floor

Thickness- varies from 3-4 miles beneath oceans and to 30 miles under some
parts of continents.

SIAL can be viewed as floating over the dense layer of SIMA.

Mantle (mesosphere)
1800 miles thick
Composed of rocks rich in olivine
It is divided into upper and lower mantle.
Aesthenosphere is highly viscous and mouldable part of upper mantle which
lies just below the lithosphere and is responsible for plates-tectonic
movements and isostatic adjustments.
Isostacy refers to a state of gravitational equilibrium between the
Aesthenosphere and the lithosphere such that the tectonic plates float at an
elevation depending upon their thickness and density.
Core (Barysphere) Composed mainly of Iron and Nickel (Nife). Believed to cause earths

About 2,160 miles in radius

Temperature is about 3500 degree F/ 2200 C
Inner Core- Solid due high density and pressure though the temperature may be
Outer core- Disappearance of S-waves in outer core suggests that it is in liquid

Hydrosphere- Parts of earths crust immersed by oceans and sea (not lakes and
Atmosphere- An envelope of mass of gases about 15 miles above the earths

The classification of rocks

Rocks differ from one another in various properties such as texture, structure,
permeability, resistance to denudation, composition etc. Types of
landforms and vegetations of an area depend mainly on the rock and soil type
of that area, so it is indispensible to have idea about the basic types of rocks and
landforms associated with them.

Igneous Rocks
Origin/ formation- Formed by solidification of molten rocks (lava) from
beneath the earths crust
Structure- Crystalline
Properties- Hard and resistant
Do not exist in strata (layers) nor they contain fossils
Applications- Road-making and polished as monuments and gravestones.

Classification based on composition1. Acid igneous rocks Contains silica

Low density
Light in colour
Example- Granite
2. Basic igneous rocks Contains basic oxides (iron, magnesium, aluminium)
Higher density
Dark in colour

Classification based on origin/ formation1. Plutonic Rocks Origin/ formation- Solidify inside the earths crust (intrusive)
Structure- Slow solidification leads to formation of large crystals.
Examples- granite, diorite, gabbros
These are exposed to the surface by the process of denudation and erosion.

2. Volcanic Rocks Origin/ formation- Lava comes out to the earths surface as a result of
volcanic eruption and solidification occurs outside the earths surface
Structure- Fast solidification process leads to formation of smaller crystals
Example- Basalt
Locations- Lava plateau in Antrim of Northern Ireland, Deccan plateau,
Columbia-Snake plateau of USA, columnar basalt of Giants Causeway in

When lava pushes its way to the surface through clefts, it gets solidifies as
vertical dykes and horizontal sills.

Sedimentary Rocks
Origin/ formation Accumulation of sediments over long period of time, usually under water
Properties Non-crystalline in structure

Made up of several layers so are called stratified rocks. These strata may
vary in thickness from few inches to several feet
Can be course-grained/ fine grained, hard/ soft
May contain fossil of plants, animals, microorganisms etc
The sediments may be brought by wind, water, glacier or even animals.

Classification based on origin & composition1. Mechanically formedOrigin/ formation Materials/ fragments derived from other rocks are cemented together to
form this rock
ExamplesA. Sandstone Most common of this type
Composition Composed mostly of sand or quartz fragments derived from granite


Varies greatly in texture, colour, composition etc

Coarser type is called grit

Applications Making buildings

Making grindstone
B. Conglomerate Formed by cementing together of rounded pebbles
C. Breccia Formed by cementing together of angular fragments
D. Clay Composed of finer sediments
Used for making bricks
E. Sand and gravel may exist in un-cemented form.
F. Shale/ Mudstone

2. Organically formedOrigin/ formation From remains of living organisms compressed under high pressure
Types on the basis of compositionA. Calciferous type

From hard shells of corals/ shellfish whose fleshy parts were


Examples Limestone
B. Carboniferous typeComposition Formed from vegetative materials- swamps and forests which
are compressed under high pressure by the weight of sediments
Examples Lignite

Advantage Bear great economic value

3. Chemically formedOrigin/ formation From precipitate of some kind of solution

ExamplesA. Rock saltFormation Salt accumulated at the beds of lakes/ sea formed rock salts
B. Gypsum, Nitrates & Phosphates-

Formation Formed from sea/ lakes having high salinity such as black sea

Metamorphic rocks
Origin/ formation Intense heat and pressure changes form of igneous or
sedimentary rocks to metamorphic or changed rocks
Earth movements cause drastic changes the properties of rocks
Examples of this conversion1. Sedimentary to metamorphic

Clay to Slate
Shale to Schist
Limestone to Marble
Sandstone to Quartzite
Coal to Graphite

2. Igneous to metamorphic Granite to Gneiss

Influence of rock types on the landforms

Rationale Softer rocks like clay and shale gets eroded much faster than
harder rock like granite thus forming low heighted landforms
Examples to fortify above rationale Granitic landforms in West Malaysia like Main Range and
Eastern Range have several high peaks (>2000 feet)
Quartzite, which is even more resistant than granite, compose
the highest peak in West Malaysia, the Gunong Tahan (7, 186

Limestone, which is resistant due its permeability, forms

steep-sided hills such as those near Ipoh and in Perlis
Shale, Schist & Sandstone being much less resistant forms
much lower and rounded hills
Earth movements and major landforms
Creator or modeller of mountains, plateau & Plain- Earth
Modifier of these- Agents of denudation such as rain, running water,
frost, sun, glacier, wind, waves etc
Numbers of orogenic (mountain building) movements till now 9 (to
Periods of their occurrences1. Pre- Cambrian period (600-3500 million years ago)
Shaped major parts of the world
2. About 320 million years agoCaledonian movement rose Mountains of Scandinavia & Scotland
Northern part of UK
Part of eastern side of South America

3. About 240 million years agoHercyanian movement

Ural mountain ranges

The Pennines of UK
Welsh highland in Britain
Appalachians mountain range in North America
Harz mountains in Germany
Siberian plateau of Russia
Plateau of China (to be reviewed)

Great Britain (England+Scotland+Wales) and Northern Ireland

constitute United Kingdom of Great Britain.
3. About 30 million years agoAlpine movements cause formation of young fold mountain ranges
such as


Rockies of North America

Andes of South America
Alps of Europe

(Image to be included from book)

(To include basics of Gondwana and Lawrasia part later from various
reliable sources)

Fold Mountains
Steps of formation1. Setting up of stress

Contractions & Expansion of earths crust

Flow movements in mantle
Magmatic intrusions into the crust
Increased load of overlying rocks

2. Folding of Earths crust Initiation of such stresses produce compressive forces which
cause folding of the earths crust along line of weakness thus
forming fold mountains

Features Earths crust is folded or wrinkled and takes form of a series of

Up-folds are called anticlines
Down-folds or Troughs are called synclines
Rock strata attains great height (sometimes even miles), so called
mountains of elevation
These mountains are generally associated with volcanic
activities and contains many active volcanoes, esp. in circumpacific belt
Various distinguishing features associated Overfold- It is formed when the crest is pushed too far
Recumbent fold- It is formed in case the crest is pushed even
Overthrust fold-It is formed in the extreme cases, when
fractures occur in the earths crust and the upper part slides
over the lower part along the thrust plane

Nappe- The over-riding portion of Overthrust plane is called

Significance Rich source of minerals such asa. Tin
b. Copper
c. Gold
d. Petroleum
Block Mountains
BasicsFault is a crack or discontinuity in a volume of rock created due to
force of tension or compression generated in earths crust due to
earth movement.
Normal Fault- These faults are formed when hanging wall drops
down as the forces that creates it are of pulling nature (tension
Reverse fault- These faults are formed when the hanging wall moves
up. The forces that creates these faults are of compressive nature
that pushes sides towards each other
Trans-current/ strike-slip fault-In this case walls move sideways,
not up or down

Block Mountain/ horst- The upstanding block formed / block which

is elevated in relation to surrounding rocks as a result of faulting.
Rift Valley/ Graben- The block which is lowered in relation to
surrounding rocks as a result of faulting is called graben.
In general large scale horsts/ graben are formed as a result of normal
faulting process.
Features Horsts have nearly flat summit
Horsts have very steep slopes
Tilting or irregularities may lead to formation of complicates
Denudation modifies the shape of these with time
ExamplesBlock Mountains The Hunsruck Mountains of Rhineland
The Vosges mountain range in eastern France near Rhineland
The Black Forest (wooded mountain range) of Rhineland



Graben East African Rift Valley, 3000 miles long, stretching from East
Africa through the Red Sea to Syria

Volcanic Mountain
Also called as mountains of accumulation.

Steps of formation1. Molten materials are ejected out of fissures in earths crust. These
materials are

Molten lava
Liquid mud
Volcanic bombs

2. After ejection, these materials fall around the vent and get
accumulated in successive layers forming characteristic volcanic

ExamplesThese are common in circum-pacific belt.


Catopaxi of Ecuador
Fuji of Japan
Mayon of Philippines
Merapi of Sumatra

Mt. Agung of Bali (Indonesia)

Residual Mountains
Also called as mountains of denudation.
Origin/ Formation1. From general land/ upland (to be reviewed) General level of land is lowered by agents of denudation but
few very resistant areas remains forming residual mountain
E.g. Mt. Manodnock in U.S.A.
2. From plateaus Down-cutting stream of rivers or glaciers dissect these
uplands into hills and valleys which are all very similar in height
Examples of dissected plateaus/ residual mountains (clarification
needed) Highlands of Scotland
Highlands of Scandinavia
Highlands of Deccan Plateau

Plateaux (Tablelands)
Features Elevated uplands
Have extensive level surface
Descends steeply to the surrounding lowland
Classification based on formation & physical appearance1. Tectonic plateauxFormation Formed as a result of isostatic arrangements/ earth movements
which cause uplift

Features Of considerable size

Have uniform altitude (level surface)
Examples with distinguishing features Deccan Plateau (Continental block)
Meseta of Central Iberia (Tilted)
Harz of Germany (Faulted)
Iberian Peninsula consists of territory of Spain, Portugal, Andora,
part of France and British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar.

Intermont Plateaux
Tectonic plateaux enclosed by Fold Mountains are called intermont
Features Among some the highest Plateaux
Among the most extensive plateaux
Examples Tibetan plateau between the Himalayas and the Kunlun range
Bolivian plateaux between two ranges of the Andes

2. Volcanic PlateauxSteps of formation Molten lava issue out of earths crust

It spreads over the earths surface to form successive sheets
of Basaltic Lava
These sheets solidify to form Lava plateau

ExamplesA. The Antrim Plateau of Northern Ireland

B. The north-western part of Deccan plateau

C. The Columbia- Snake Plateau of U.S.A.
Area almost equal to twice the area of Malaysia
Thickness of each layer is over 100 feet
Overall thickness is about a mile

3. Dissected plateauxFormationAgents of denudation such as rivers, winds, glaciers etc cause

erosion and weathering of extensive plateaux, making their
surfaces irregular.
A. Humid highlands Streams of water and sometimes glaciers act as an agent of
denudation and dissect the plateaux

Features Valleys cut are deep & narrow

Examples Scottish Highlands

B. Highlands in drier areas Vertical corrosion by rivers and abrasion by winds cause
Features Due to dissection, plateaus take form of steep-sided tabular
masses called mesas & buttes
These tabular masses are intersected by deep canyons
Common in arid and semi-arid regions
Examples Common in south-western America

Arid region- Characterized by severe lack of water, to the extent to

prevent proliferation of plants and animal life.
Semi-arid region- These receive low precipitation, but not extremely
SignificanceMany of these plateaux are rich in minerals and are actively minedA. Deccan Plateau Iron
B. Brazilian plateau (particularly Minas Gerais area) Iron
C. African plateau


D. Western Australia Gold



An area of lowland
This area can be level or undulating
Altitude above sea level seldom reaches few hundred meters
May have low hills giving it Rolling Topography (meaning to be
Generally densely populated
Significance Generally is fertile and intensely cultivated
When traversed by river, its economic importance increases
Examples of Plains traversed by river The Indo-Gangetic plain
The Mississippi plain (Great plain of USA) (to ascertain)
The Yang-Tze plain

Examples of temperate plains that are grasslands The Russian Steppes

The North-American Prairies
The Argentinean Pampas

Classification based on the mode of formation-

1. Structural PlainFormation It is structurally depressed

Features Very extensive
Composed of horizontally bedded rocks
Rocks composing the plains are relatively undisturbed by crustal
movements of earth
Examples The Great plain of USA
The Russian Platform ( meaning/ location to be ascertained)
The Central Lowland Australia
2. Depositional PlainsFormation Materials (sediments) are transported from one place to other place by
agents of transportation
These sediments are deposited to form this type of plains
Features Leveller than Structural plain
Rise gently towards adjacent highland
A. Plains formed by rivers as an agent of transportationSteps of formation A large quantity of materials are eroded in the upper course of river
These materials (called alluvium) are carried to the lower course
and then, are subsequently deposited to form plains of various kinds
(will be explained later)
a. Flood Plains
b. Alluvial Plains

c. Deltaic Plains
Features Very fertile and intensively cultivated
Intensively tilled
Densely populated
Examples with their significancea. The Nile Delta of Egypt
Cotton & Rice cultivation
b. The Ganges Delta Jute & Rice cultivation
c. Plain of North-China composed of alluvium deposited by Hwang-Ho
Support various crops

B. Plains formed by glaciers and ice-sheets as an agent of transportationOutwash Plain- (to be detailed in other chapter)
Formation Melting of glaciers or ice-sheets deposits a mantle of unsorted
fluvioglacial sand and gravels which form outwash plains
Features Generally barren lands
Examples Parts of Holland
Parts of northern Germany
Holland- Western part of Netherland

Till or drift plainsFormation Composed of boulder clay, a mixture of various sizes of boulders and
Features May be fertile
Examples Mid-west USA
East-Anglia in England

C. Plains formed by Waves and winds (in coastal areas) as an agent of

transportationFormation These carry beach material, sand, mud, shingles etc on coastal plains
to form various lowlands such asa. Marine swamps- An area of low, salty or brackish (salinity
intermediate between fresh and sea water) water along the shore
containing abundant grasses, mangrove trees and similar
b. Mud-flats/ tidal flats- These are coastal wetlands (land area
saturated with water), either temporarily or permanently

c. Estuarine lowland (to be read in later chapters)

Tidal plain

Marine swamps

Examples Coastal lowland of Belgium

Costal lowland of Netherland
Gulf coast of USA

Gulf- A landlocked portion of sea/ ocean opening through a strait.

Strait- A narrow passage of water connecting two seas or large body of
Emergent coastal plainsFormed when coastal lowlands are uplifted.
Example Coastal margin from Florida to Texas

D. Plains formed by winds as an agent of transportationFormation Winds pick up very fine Aeolian deposits known as loess (a kind
(fine) of Aeolian deposits) from interior of deserts or barren lands
These are deposited over hills, valleys or plains. These deposits fill the
depressions of undulating plain and forming loess plain
Features Generally very fertile
Example Pampas of Argentina
In case of deposition of loess over hills and valley loess plateaux are
formed, like that of present in north-western part of China

Aeolian deposits- Windblown sediments that are characteristics of very dry


3. Erosional plainFormationAgents of denudation such as rivers, glaciers, wind, icebergs etc carve out
plains of denudation by the action of erosion. Even mountains are eroded
to form undulating plain in terms of millions of years.
A. Peneplains formed by erosive action of rivers on hills in humid
regionsFormation River flowing through valleys deepens the bed and widens the bank
by an action of erosion
Hills are both lowered and widened in due course of time forming
undulating plains called Peneplains
B. Ice-scoured plains formed by erosive actions of glaciers and icebergsFeatures Generally levelled
Often characterized with several lakes formed at the place where ice
scooped out holes once
Examples of ice scoured plains Northern Canada
Northern Europe
Finland has about 35, 000 such lakes covering 10% of its total land

C. Pediments/ Pediplains and stony desert plain formed by erosive

action of wind in arid and semi-arid areasa. PedimentsFormation-

Hills are worn back due to mechanical weathering caused by wind

forming Pediplains
Features A gently sloping plain
Characterized by some steep hills which remain, called Inselbergs
b. Stony desert plainFormation Wind sweeps away eroded desert materials leaving behind extensive
stony desert plain called reg in Africa

Vulcanism and Earthquakes

Landforms associated with volcanic activities
BasicsMolten magma is ejected or issued out of earths crust. Solid, liquid &
gaseous materials (that constitute magma) from deep seated reservoir
can be ejected out.
Types of landforms formed depend upon these factors Magma- Strength & fluidity
Cracks/ Joints/ Faults- Their types
Manner of ejection of magma
Intrusive landforms (plutonic rocks)
They are all variations of igneous intrusions placed differently in the
earths crust and solidifying within the upper layer of earths crust.
1. SillsFormation Molten magma intrude horizontally along the bedding plane of
sedimentary rocks
Solidification takes place in the same position inside the earths crust
forming sills
It is exposed on the account of denudation of surrounding sedimentary
Shapea. Resembles lava flow
b. Like bold escarpments
E.g. Great Whin Sill of N.E. England

2. DykesFormation Molten magma intrude vertically within layers of sedimentary rocks

Solidification takes place in the same position inside the earths crust
forming dykes
It is exposed on the account of denudation of surrounding sedimentary

Shapea. Resembles upstanding wall when they are more resistant than
surrounding rock strata
b. Resembles shallow trenches when they are less resistant than
surrounding rock strata
Examples Cleveland dyke of Yorkshire, England
Isles of Mull & Arran in Scotland
A narrow ridge of quartzite to the north of Kuala Lumpur (how
quartzite can form a dyke?)


3. LaccolithsFeatures Upper surface is dome shaped

Bottom surface is flat
It is fed by pipe like conduit from below
EffectsIt arches up the sedimentary rocks strata over it

Example Henry Mountain, in Utah USA

4. LopolithsFeatures Saucer-shaped
EffectsA shallow basin is formed in the midst of country rocks.
Example Bushveld Lopoliths of Transvaal, South Africa

Transvaal is the geographical area north to Vaal River.

5. Phacoliths

Occupy top of anticline & bottom of syncline
Fed by conduit from beneath
Example Corndon hills in Shropshire, England

6. Batholiths
Probable mode of formation Large mass of magma metamorphosed the country rocks with
which it came into contact
These metamorphosed country rocks together with solidified
magma is believed to constitute batholiths
Features Usually composed of granite
Can be 100 of miles thick
After removal of the overlying rocks strata these are exposed as a
massive resistant upland.
Examples Main ranges of West Malaysia
Upland of Britannia, France
Wicklow Mountain of Ireland

The origin of Volcanoes

Eruption basics and rationale On an average, temperature increases by 1 degree Fahrenheit per
65 feet of descent below the earths surface
So, various parts of the interior of earth remain in semi-molten
state comprising of solids, liquids and gases which are collectively
termed as magma
Presence of gases like Carbon dioxide, sulphurated hydrogen,
chlorine, nitrogen and other volatile substances and vapours
increases the mobility and explosiveness of lava
The density of semi-molten magma is lesser than the surrounding
rocks because of which it tends to move up, primarily through zones of
weaknesses, created mainly due to crustal disturbance like deep
faulting or mountain folding
Subsequently, the magma ejects or issues out of vent of the volcanoes
during volcanic eruption as lavas
The difference between magma and lava is the location. Semi-molten
materials inside the earths crust are called magma and after coming out
to earths surface is called lava.

Types of Lavas1. Basic lavas


Hottest lava (temperature is about 1000 C (1830 F))

Similar to dark colour Basalt
Contains more of iron and magnesium and less of silicon
Highly fluid in nature
After emission, it flows very quietly and very less explosively
Speed of flow ranges from 10 to 30 miles per hour
Before solidifying, these spread over as thin sheets over long

Features of volcanoes formed by this lava Gently sloping

Have wide diameter
Forms flattened shield or dome

Shield volcano, Hawaii

2. Acid lavas


Light coloured
High density
Contains silica
High melting point
High viscosity
Flow speed is very less

The rapid jellying (becoming thick) of lava in the vent obstructs the
flow of out-pouring lava leading to severe explosions, throwing out
several volcanic bombs or pyroclasts.
Volcanic bombs- Mass of molten rocks larger than 64 mm in
diameter. It may travel several hundred kilometres and acquire
aerodynamic shapes. A type of pyroclasts.
Pyroclastic flow- A pyroclastic flow is a fast moving current of
gases and molten rocks which reaches speed up to 700km/hr while
moving away from volcano.
Features of volcanic cones formed Steep-sided
Plug or spine
Formation Sometimes lava is so viscous that it solidifies and forms spine at
the crater
Example Mt. Pelee of Martinique

Features Some spines are very resistant that remain even after
surrounding materials are eroded
Example of resistant one Puy-de-dome, France

Types of volcanoes
1. Active volcanoesThose which erupt frequently or is known to have erupted recently.
2. Dormant volcanoesThose which are known to have erupted in past and may erupt in
3. Extinct volcanoesThose which are not erupted in historic times but retain the features
of volcanoes
All volcanoes pass through these three stages but it is not
thoroughly sure when they are extinct.
Examples of volcanoes (thought to be extinct) which erupted Mt. Vesuvius, Naples
Mt. Krakatau

Extrusive landforms
Types of these depend upon the nature and composition of lava.
1. Lava plain
Formation Highly fluid basic lava, flowing long distances forms these
Example The Great lava plains of Snake Basin, USA
2. Basalt plateauFormation Highly fluid basic lava, flowing long distances forms these

The north-western part of Deccan plateau

In Iceland (flood basalt)
3. Volcanic cones
Also called as lava domes or shield volcanoes.
Formation Highly fluid lava solidifying in successive layers form these
Features Gentle slope
Broad, flattened top
ExamplesVolcanoes of Hawaii
Features Have best developed domes
It is composed of five volcanoes as shown in figure-

Lava pit of
Halemaumau (Kilauea caldera)

Most accessible of these area. Mauna Loa

b. Kilauea
Kilauea caldera has very steep walls
Many lava fountains rise & fall in Lava pit of Halemaumau in
the Kilauea caldera

4. Ash & Cinders coneFormation Lava low in fluidity leads to its formation


Large central craters
Small in extent
Generally occurs in groups
Height is generally less than 1000 feet

Examples Mt. Nuovo near Naples

Mt. Paricutin in Mexico

5. Lava tongues
Formation When viscous lava flows over shield-shaped mountains gentle
slope in tongues like flows

6. Lava dammed lakes

Formation When lava flow is confined within valleys, it solidifies and dams
the river valley
7. Lava bridges
Associated with obstructions caused by lava.
8. Lava tunnel
Associated with obstructions caused by lava.
9. Composite volcanoesAlso known as strato-volcanoes.
Formation Several eruptions of lava, ashes and other materials occur from
main conduit bringing materials from to reservoir of magma
During each eruption a layer is added and subsequently height is
increased forming composite cone
Features Generally highest
Most common
Parasitic cone Fed by dykes or pipes originating from main conduit
Lava flows along the sides of parent cone after erupting from
parasitic cone

Dykes- These are almost perpendicular to the layers of cone.

Sills- These run along the layers of cone.
(Definitions of Dykes and sills are to be further clarified)
Examplesa. Mt. Etna, Sicily
Have hundreds of parasitic cone
b. Mt. Stromboli
Also called lighthouse of Mediterranean
Erupts very frequently that makes the summit glow

c. Mt. Vesuvius, Italy

d. Mt. Fuji, Japan
e. Mt. Chimborazo, Ecuador
f. Mt. Popocatepetl, Mexico

10. Crater
Formation Top portion of volcanic cone may blow off or collapse into the vent
forming it
11. Caldera
Formation Result of violent explosion that caused much of volcano to
subside to magma beneath
Features Greatly enlarged depression
My be several miles across

12. Caldera or crater lakesFormation Collection of water in these depressions lead the formation of
such lakes
Example Lake Toba, Sumatra

Volcanic dust or ashes are thrown so high in the sky that it travel
round the world several times before coming to rest, and falls as black
The coarser fragmental rocks that are spread in volcanic area are
called pyroclasts that include cinders or lapilli, volcanic bombs,
Pumice, Scoria.
Cinder/ scoria- A partly burnt substance (basaltic lava) that is not
converted into ash but is incapable of further combustion.
Lapilli- Rock fragments ejected out of volcano having diameter
between 2 to 64 mm.
Volcanic bomb- Rock fragments ejected out of volcano having
diameter greater 64 mm.

Pumice- Very light and porous rock which is formed when gas rich
molten lava solidifies quickly.
Some of the most disastrous volcanic eruptionsMt. VesuviusFeatures At the Bay of Naples
Height is about 4000 feet
Series of events and their effectsFirst event- (24 August A.D. 79)
White hot lava flowed from the parasitic cones
A large mass of gaseous magma was ejected high in the sky as
a result of explosion which finally fell to the ground as pyroclasts
& ashes
Effects The city of Pompeii located south-west of the volcano was
buried beneath the twenty feet of volcanic ashes which was
later cemented by torrential rain which followed the eruption
The city of Herculaneum, west to the volcano was covered with
the 50 feet thick layers of ashes & cinders washed down by
torrential rain from the sides of volcano
Second event- (December 1631)
Avalanche of height of about 1 foot and composed of pasty lava,
red hot volcano debris and highly energised gases
descended on Naples
Effects 15 towns were ruined and about 4000 people were killed

Mt. KrakatauFeatures-

Perhaps, Biggest explosion known to man. Could be heard in

Australia about 3000 miles away
Krakatau is a small island in Sunda strait, midway between Java
and Sumatra
Series of eventsFirst event - (August 1883)
Dense black cloud of ashes were shot 20 to 50 miles high in
the sky which were brought down to nearby islands by rain
Gigantic amount of magma was poured out which collapsed
two-third of the island and converted it into submarine caldera
A huge amount of fine dust particles were thrown up in the sky
which made several round about the earth and caused brilliant
sunset and glowing sky in various parts of the globe

Effects Krakatau was not inhabited by humans so no one was killed

because of lava flow
But setting up of oceanic waves, over 100 feet high, drowned
about 36,000 people in the coastal districts of Indonesia

Second event- (1927)

Anak Krakatau (the child of Mt. Krakatau)
Formation Another explosion in 1927 pushed a cinder cone from
submarine floor, resulting in formation of 220 feet high summit
by 1952

Mt. Pelee- (West-Indies)

Features Most catastrophic of modern times
Consists of vertical spine
Event of formation- (1902)

White-hot lava and super-heated steam descended the slope

at an amazing speed as a nuee ardente (glowing avalanche)
Lava eruption continued for months
Effects St. Pierre, the capital of Martinique was destroyed within
minutes and its population of 30,000 perished except two
Even the sea was boiling and ships at harbour wrecked
Spine formationIn middle of 1903, a vertical spine made up by solidification of pasty
lava in the neck of volcano rose which stopped the lava flow. It is
about 1000 feet high but eventually got crumbled by the action of
agents of weathering and internal forces

West-Indies (Found by Columbus, first from Europe) - It is a large

group of islands that separates Caribbean Sea from Atlantic Ocean.
Now, it is better known as Caribbean. It consists of three parts-

Bahamas (north)- Consists of over 3000 small islands

Greater Antilles (Central)- Consists of Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti,
the Dominican Republic (Hispaniola) & Puerto Rico
Lesser Antilles (Southeast)- Divided into two groups, the
Leeward islands & the Windward islands

The distribution of Volcanoes in the worldFeatures Generally located in the regions which are folded or faulted
Location is fairly clearly-defined
Around 500 active and over 1000 dormant and extinct
volcanoes are present
General distribution Along coastal mountain ranges, as offshore-islands
In midst of ocean
Few in interior of continents
Region wise location details with examples1. Circum-Pacific region (Pacific ring of fire)
This region includes about two-third of the worlds volcanoes. The
chain of volcanoes extends to about 2000 miles. Important
locations from start to finish (taking anticlockwise direction) of the
ring is given below Starting from Andes- Contains almost 40 active volcanoes
To Central America (particularly Guatemala, Costa Rica &

To Mexico
Then running up right to Alaska
From Alaska to the Aleutian Islands

To Kamchatka

To Japan- Contains almost 35 active volcanoes

To Philippines- Contains almost 100 active volcanoes
To Indonesia (particularly Java & Sumatra)- Contains almost 70
active volcanoes
Moving southwards into Pacific islands of Solomon
To New Hebrides
To Tonga
To North Island, New Zealand

2. Atlantic coast
Very few active volcanoes but many dormant and extinct
volcanoes are present.
a. Examples of Active Volcanoes Of Iceland
Of Azores

Examples of dormant or extinct

volcanoes. Those in Madeira
St. Helena
Canary Island
Ascension Island
Cape Verde Island

3. Volcanoes in Mediterranean regionMainly associated with Alpine folds though, surprisingly, the
Himalayas have no active volcanoes.

Mt. Vesuvius
Mt. Etna
Mt. Stromboli
Mt. Vulcano
Those of Aegean Island
Few in Asia Minor ( Mt. Ararat & Mt. Elbrus)

In AfricaExample of Active volcanoes Mt. Cameroon, West Africa

Examples of extinct (probably)
volcanoesThese are along East African
Rift Valley.
Mt. Kenya

There are few volcanic cones in Madagascar, but active eruption was
not known so far.
In West Indian Islands Mt. Pelee in Matinique
In St. Vincent
The Lesser Antilles are mainly made up of volcanic island,
some of which bear sign of volcanic liveliness.

In Asia, North America, Europe and Australia, active volcanoes are

Geysers & Hot SpringsGeysersThese are fountain of hot water and superheated steam that may
may spout up to 150 feet from the earth beneath.
Formation Water beneath the earths surface is heated above boiling point
(100 C) in volcanic or thermal areas
A jet water is ejected with an explosion triggered by bubbles of
ExamplesThese are majorly confined to three areas Iceland
The Rotorua district of North Island, New Zealand
Old faithful in Yellowstone National Park, USA Erupts every
63 mins on an average. (Perhaps the worlds best known Geyser)

Hot springs or thermal springsFormation Water goes deep beneath the earths surface
It gets heated by internal forces and are ejected out of the
earths surface without any explosion
ExamplesThese are common and may be found anywhere on the earth. Majorly
in Iceland- Thousands of it are present
Japan & Hawaii- Centre of attraction for tourism
Significance Contains various minerals so can be of medicinal value
Heat is harnessed for various puposes (domestic, heat house)

EarthquakesMore than 50,000 earthquake are recorded annualy.

Minor earth tremorsCause Caused by gente wave of vibrations within the earths crust

Frequency fo occurence Usually occurs every few minutes

Major earthquakesCause Caused as a result of movement along Faults

Major after-effects Gigantic tidal waves, called Tsunami (by Japanese) are
Passage of surface waves cause ground to twist and undulate
and fissures are opened. A wave of magnitude of quarter an
inch is suffircient to collapse the prdinary buildings
General after-effects

Fire may break out as a result of shattering of Gas Lines etc

Buildings collapse
Railways, roads and bridges are buckled and twisted
Hill are shaken causing landslides
Telecommunications are cut

A very sensitive seismograph is needed to detect the movements of

earthquake waves.

Some major earthquakes1. Great Lisbon Earthquake- (1 Nov 1755)

Cause Subsidence of Ocean floor in the Atlantic, to the west of Lisbon

Tidal waves as high as 35 feet was set up which collapsed

buidings and killed about 60,000 people in the districts of Lisbon
Effects of the earthquake was felt within the 400 miles radius of
Lisbon, in North Africa and Europe

2. Earthquake of Tokyo and Yokohama- (1 Sep 1923)

Cause Cracking of earths crust off the coast of Japan cause the
After-effects Half a million of building collapsed
Quarter a million of people died because of widespread fire of the
factories, gas mains etc
3. Earthquake in loess region of Kansu, Chinaa. 1920- Killed 200,000 people
b. 1927- Buried 100,000 cave dwellers

4. Earthquake of eastern Iran- (1968)

Epicentre was in Kakh

Earthquake at Agadir, Morocco in 1960 and earthquake in San

Francisco in 1906 were also very disastrous.

The distribution of earthquakesIts distribution coincides very closely with that of volcanoes. Though
no part of the world can be said completely immune to earthquakes.
1. Circum-Pacific areas-

General things About 70 % of the worlds earthquakes occur here

It is region of greatest seismicity with most of the epicentres
and frequent occurrence along the Pacific Ring of Fire
Seismicity- The frequency or magnitude of earthquakes in a
given area.
2. Mediterranean-Himalayan beltIt includes Asia Minor, the Himalayas and the north-west parts of
General thing About 20% of worlds earthquakes occur here

Weathering, Mass Movement and Groundwater

IntroductionInternal forces of volcanic eruptions, tectonic plates movements,

folding, faulting etc create new relief features.
External forces tend to lower and level these reliefs.
The constructive and destructive actions of internal and external
forces respectively lead to formation of a variety of landforms.
DenudationIt is the process of wearing away of the earth causing a general
lowering and levelling of the earths surface.
Four phases of denudationa. Weathering- Disintegration of rocks by the action of atmospheric
or weather forces
b. Erosion- Wearing of earths surface by the action of moving
agents like running water, ice, wind, waves etc
c. Transportation- Carrying away of eroded material from one place
to another
d. Deposition- Dumping the debris at various places where they may
accumulate forming new rocks
Rates of these processes depends upon these factors

Nature of relief feature

Structure and type of rocks
Local climate
Human interference

WeatheringDisintegration of rocks occurs by chemical or mechanical action,

though the processes involved in each are interrelated. The
processes of mechanical weathering work much easily if the rock
has already been weakened by chemical weathering.
1. Chemical weatheringExtremely slow process
Cause/ Process Air and water containing chemicals, though in small quantities,
initiate chemical reactions in the surfaces of rocks when they
come in contact with it
This chemical reaction may weaken or entirely dissolve some of
the components of the rock
This loosen the remaining crystals and other components
Some of the loosened parts of weathered rocks are eroded and
carried away by the moving agents like river or wind, thus
exposing new surfaces
But much of the remains of rocks (regolith), left after weathering,
stay in position forming basis of soil. Apart from regolith (mineral
remains of decomposed rocks), soil contains organic materials
such as leaves, small animals, insects etc
Soil traps the water and keeps the underlying rocks in contact
with moisture. Water absorbs organic acids from soils making
thus becoming a stronger agent of chemical weathering than
pure water acting on the bare rocks
ExampleSurface of Granite in Malaysia are pitted and rough.
Cause Granite is primarily composed of quartz, feldspar & mica
Feldspar is more quickly weathered and is worn away
Quartz crystal are loosened and subsequently formed a coarse
sandy residue

There are three major chemical weathering processesA. SolutionAlmost all the rocks are subjected to this process to some extent.
Various minerals are dissolved in water. Carbon dioxide dissolved in
rain water act as a weak acid and expedites weathering processes.

Rate of weathering by this process depends upona. Mineral composition of rocksExamples to support this Limestone- It is majorly composed of calcium carbonate which
gets readily dissolved in water. As a result, joints and cracks are
widened and subsequently the whole system of caves and
passages are worn out
For others, rate is slow

b. Structure of rocksExamples to support this Presence of pore-spaces between the grains of sedimentary rocks
provide for lodging of water and gases which expedite the rate of
their weathering
c. Density of joints and cracksAs the density of joints and cracks in a rock increases, the rate of
weathering increases.
Examples to support this By analysing the granite in Malaysia, it is found that the
underlying layer of solid rock is covered with thick layer of
regolith but it contains some core-stones which would have

resisted the weathering process on account of having lesser

density of joints and cracks to hold moisture

d. Local climateExamples to support this Weathering process occurs rapidly in the tropical regions which
are characterized by heavy rainfall and warm climate
Dry climate hinders the chemical weathering processes but
supports the physical or mechanical weathering processes

B. OxidationOxygen in air or water reacts with minerals in rocks. This is called

Example Iron which is a constituent of most of the rocks, react with
oxygen of air or water to form iron oxide which being weaker
crumbles and get eroded & removed easily
Removal of iron from the parent rock loosen and weaken the
structure of rocks
C. Decomposition by organic acidsa. Rocks covered by soil Various microorganisms like bacteria etc thrive on the plant and
animal materials present in the soil and produce various acids
These acids are mixed with water which speeds up the
weathering process
b. Bare rocks Several microorganisms and few plants like mosses, lichens
etc live on damp bare rocks and absorb minerals from it while
producing organic acids

This leads to chemical as well as physical or mechanical

weathering simultaneously

2. Mechanical or Physical weatheringIt is physical disintegration of rocks.

A. Repeated temperature change- (Generally in desert areas)
Process Temperature rises rapidly during the day time causing expansion
of outer layer much faster than that of inner parts thus, causing
outer layer to pull the rest
Conversely, temperature falls very rapidly during night which
causes outer layer to shrink much faster than inner part causing
This repeated stresses causes rocks to disintegrate or crack in
due course of time
Stresses and pressures are more at the surfaces and at sharp
angles thus the rectangular block is gradually rounded by shedding its
sharp corner. The surface layers of the rounded boulders gradually split
and are peeled off in layers. This process is technically called
exfoliation or is generally called onion peeling.
Various casesa. Well bedded and jointed rocks Split along joints or cracks, breaking up into rectangular blocks
b. Shale & Slate Split up in the form of platy fragments due to platy structure
c. Crystalline rocks such as granite Granite is composed of mica, feldspar and quartz crystals
which expand and contracts at different rates thus increasing
the rate of disintegration

The fragments broken off from the rocks fall at the bottom of slope
forming screes or litters.

B. Repeated wetting and dryingProcess The outer layers of rocks absorb a certain amount of moisture
and expand when is wetted
These layers contract suddenly when is dried
This repeated expansion and contraction of outer layers cause
the outer layers to split off (exfoliation)
Various casesa. In tropical region- (Malaysia etc)
Short downpours saturate the rocks
Hot Sun dries them up
b. At coastal region Rocks are dried rapidly by sun and wind between the tides
c. In desert regions Rocks are dried rapidly after being wetted by brief desert rainstorms
This is almost as important as repeated temperature change in
causing weathering in these areas
C. Frost action- (temperate latitudes)
Process Rocks contain several cracks and joints, or pores, which are
occupied by the water, usually after shower
As the temperature falls during the night, this water freezes.
Freezing of water cause increase in its volume to about onetenth of its original volume. Water, thus, exerts a bursting
pressure of about 140 kg/ cm2 (2000 lb. to a square of inch)

Repeated expansion of this type deepens and widens the cracks

or crevices
Subsequently rock are broken into angular fragments
In case of mountains Sharp pinnacles and angular outlines are created by this
process. Such peaks are called as frost-shattered
Angular fragments fall to the base of foot of the slope where
they accumulate to form screes

D. Biotic factorsa. Plants Cracks and Crevices are developed in rocks due to chemical or
mechanical weathering processes
Plants may sprout in these cracks or crevices
As the plants grow, their roots penetrate deeper into the rocks,
along the joints or the plane of weakness, prising them apart
b. Humans Various humans activities such as mining, road making,
farming etc make them to excavate the rocks
These excavation activities contribute to the mechanical
weathering of rocks and make them more vulnerable to agents
of denudation

Mass MovementThe movement of weathered materials down the slope by the action of
gravitational force.
It can be gradual or sudden depending on these factors Gradient of slope
Weight of weathered materials
Provision of lubrication, for example by rain water

1. Soil CreepIt is the slow, gradual but more or less continuous movement of soil
down the hill slopes.
Rate of soil creep decreases when Slope is gentle
Soil is covered with grasses or other vegetations
Rate of soil creep increases when Soil is damp, so that water acts as a lubricant and individual soil
particles move over one another and the underlying rocks easily
When the hill is regularly trampled or treaded by animal
grazing which sets up vibrations which loosen soil and cause it
to move

Soil creep is not readily seen in action but its evidences are Anything rooted in the soil viz. trees, poles, fences etc tilt with
Soil accumulates at the foot of the hill or over any obstruction
such as wall that comes into its way of movement

2. Soil Flow (Solifluction)Process Sometimes soil gets completely saturated with water as if soil
particles are almost suspended in water
In this case soil behaves like liquid and soil-flow or mud-flow
Region wise process detailsA. Arid- region-

Weathered rocks-debris are saturated with rain-water, followed

by desert storm
These saturated debris flows down the slope as a semi-liquid
B. Temperate & Tundra region Surface layers of frozen ground thaw in the spring
This soil and rocks debris saturated with water slips over the
underlying layers of frozen sub-soil
C. Area with Peat-Soil Peat absorbs a lot of water
If it gets saturated, it may flow down the slope
In Ireland, such down flow of peat soil is called bog-bursts

3. Landslides- (Slumping or Sliding)

It is very rapid movement when a large mass of soil or rocks falls

Mode of occurrences and factors causing ita. Vibrations set up by earthquakes or volcanic eruptions may
loosen the soil or rocks structures causing them to fall suddenly
b. Presence of very steep slope such as in mountain region, cliffs etc
facilitates its occurrence
c. Man-made steepening, e.g. for railway tracks etc, undercuts the
slope as well as set up vibrations which loosen the soil and rocks
d. Slumping occurs when impermeable strata like those composed
of clay is covered with permeable layers of weathered debris or
rocks. Water percolates through the permeable strata and is stopped at
the impermeable layer. Damp clay provides the very needed
lubrication and the whole upper strata slumps down

e. Water may collect on the bedding planes causing one layer to slide
over other, especially in tilted strata
f. Water may collect at the base of the regolith because it sinks
readily in the weathered materials and cause it to slide over the layers
of underlying rocks
g. Removal of natural vegetation cover for agricultural purpose or
housing allows more water to percolate into the soil, thus increasing
the chances of landslides
Removal of vegetation cover from the surface Cameron
Highlands leads to frequent minor landslides and slumps
Landslides lead to burying of villages, houses, people, railway tracks
etc and have disastrous effects.
Places generally affected by landslides South Wales, UK
British Columbia, Canada (administrative map of Canada to be
Hong Kong, China
Cameron Highlands, West Malaysia- Village of Ringlet was
partially buried in 1961 and several houses were ruined/ effects
also in tea gardens
Hong Kong is one of the two Special Administrative Regions of
Peoples Republic of China, the other being Macau.

GroundwaterHydrological Cycle- The whole circulation of water between land,

sea and atmosphere constitutes hydrological cycle.
Events, after it rains Some amount of water may evaporate immediately after falling
to the ground and is returned to atmosphere
Some amount of water may get absorbed by plants which is
gradually returned to atmosphere through the process of
Some amount of water my run off the slope, joining streams and
rivers, and finally draining into sea and oceans
A considerable amount of water percolates into soil and rocks,
filling up joints and pores-spaces, constitutes groundwater
Significance of groundwater It is an important source of natural water storage
It plays an important role in weathering and mass movement
Groundwater re-enters hydrological cycle through springs and wells.

The proportion of rain-water becoming groundwater depends on-

1. Climatea. In case of dry climate A large proportion of rain water may evaporate immediately to
dry atmosphere
b. In case of very humid climate Soil may already be having a lot of moisture intact in it
So, a large proportion of water is moved as run-off

c. In case of moderately humid climate Water is both moved as runoff and percolates down

Thus, this proportion may depend on season too.

2. Rock typesThe amount of water which percolates into the ground and the depth
to which it goes beneath the surface depends greatly upon the
porosity and the permeability of the soil & rocks.
Porosity- It is the measure of presence of density of pores-spaces in
the rock. A porous rock allows a large amount of moisture to pass
through it absorbs a large quantity of the same in their pores-spaces.
Rocks like Sandstones, limestone, etc are very porous.
Permeability- It is the ability of rocks or soil to allow the passage of
fluid through them. Rocks like granite having pervious or permeable.
Generally a porous rock is permeable except for a few rocks. E.g.
Clay is made up of innumerable extremely fine particles having
pores-spaces between them and so is very porous, capable of holding a
large quantity of water. But due to very small gap between the
particles, it is practically impervious.
Also granite is made of several non-porous crystals which absorb
little or no water, but water usually passes through the joints and
cracks of it. It is thus non-porous yet generally permeable. Though,
some granite can be more porous than others.
The water tableFormation Water goes downwards through the layers of permeable rocks
until it reaches the surface of impermeable rocks
If any outlet such as springs are not available, water
accumulates over the surface of impermeable rocks
The layers of pervious rocks are saturated gradually and these
saturated rocks are called aquifer

The upper surface of saturated area is called water table

Depth of water table from the surface of land depends upona. Relief features Water table is generally far from the surface of hill-top
Water table is generally close to the surface of valleys or low
lying plains which may sometimes render the land waterlogged
or swampy
b. Seasons When there is plenty of rain to augment ground water supplies,
ground water table may rise
In dry periods, new supplies may not be available, and the
ground water table is lowered as water may be lost through
springs and seepages
C. Type of rocks

SpringsIt is the natural outlet of groundwater onto the surface. It may seep
gradually from the rocks or gush out as fountain.
Rationale The groundwater reaches the surface at the point where water
table reaches the surface

Various types of springs1. Depending on nature of rocks

a. Well jointed rocks Water may percolate down through the joints until it reaches a
joint which emerges at the surface
Water is emerged out at the surface through this joint

b. Limestone or Chalk escarpment In this case generally an escarpment of permeable rock lie
between the layers of impermeable rocks
Water escapes out as spring from the foot of the scarp as scarpfoot spring
Water escapes out as spring from the base of dip-slope of
escarpment as dip-slope spring
c. In Karsts region Rivers suddenly disappear underground
They follow the passage worn by the process of chemical
weathering (solution)
Rivers re-emerges as spring when it reaches some impermeable
layer. This is called vauclusian spring or resurgence

2. Depending on position of water table

a. Tilted strata Layers of permeable and impermeable rocks are alternate
Spring comes out to the surface through the base of permeable
b. Presence of dykes or sills Sometimes impermeable layer of dykes or sills are introduced
into the layer of permeable rocks
It cause the water table to reach the surface from where spring
emerges as dyke or sill spring

Other types of spring include hot springs, mineral springs, geysers,


WellsMan can make use of the stored groundwater by sinking well.

Important points A well is to be bored until it reaches the water table

Well should be bored till the permanent water table line if
water supply in all seasons is required
In case the well is bored only till the wet-season water table,
water will not be available in the dry season when water table
goes down
Initially water is to be raised manually or by using pump after
boring the well
It is more useful in arid regions where very little surface water
is available but sufficient amount of water exists between the
underlying rocks or soil as underground water
Artesian wellsIt is formed in a special situation described below Sometimes rock strata are down folded to take the form of a
In such cases permeable rocks like limestone or chalk may be
sandwiched between the layers of impermeable rocks so that
the permeable layer touches the ground only through its edges
Water goes down through this permeable layer through the
edges until it reaches the impermeable layer
The bottom most impermeable layer prevent water from passing
downwards and the top layer of impermeable rocks prevent
water from escaping up
Thus, the aquifer is saturated till the brim of the basin and water
gets trapped in the aquifer at high pressure
And when a well is bored, the downward pressure is high enough,
and water gushes out the surface as fountain
But as the pressure decrease it becomes necessary to pump up
the water
The depth of Artesian well may vary from few feet to thousands of
Locations where Artesian wells are generally founda. Great Plain of USA-

Used to supply needs to an entire village

b. Queensland and other parts of Australia Sheep farming
c. Arid regions (parts of Sahara and in Australia) Water may enter the aquifer through the edges in the area of
high rainfall
And it may get stored in the basin underlying arid region

Cautions Water obtained may be hot or contain a lot of dissolved mineral

salts because of which it may become unsuitable for
agricultural or irrigation purpose
Boring well leads to depletion of groundwater as water is
removed at much higher rate than under natural conditions and
rate of replenishment remains more or less same

Landforms made by running water

The development of a river system-(to be updated and expanded later

if required)
A part of rain which fall to the ground run off as rivulets, brooks,
streams and tributaries of the river.
River is a potent source of denudation and its effects are seen all
over the globe unlike glacier or ice-sheets which effect on cold and
temperate region, waves which affect only coastal regions or winds
which are effective only in desert areas.
Effective erosion of rocks is possible only when it is earlier weakened
by weathering.
Sources of riverThe lakes, the marshes or springs etc can be the source of river, but it
is generally in upland.
Catchment area (drainage basin)It is the area of land from where surface water from rain, snow or
groundwater converges to a single point and joins river. It is generally
in uplands as Precipitations are heaviest in uplands
Slope provide for run off to flow downwards
WatershedIt is a divide or line that separates two neighbouring drainage
It is generally the crest of the mountains from which streams flow
down the slopes on both the sides to start their journey to the oceans.

Types of streamsa. Consequent streams- It (flow) is the direct result of original slope
or original topography of the surface. It is the initial stream that exists
as a consequence of slope.
Head ward erosion is the process by which a stream becomes longer and
more pronounced (wider). As rain falls, the river's head is eroded as the rain
erodes rock at the head. As more rain falls, the rock is eroded even more, and
the river cuts back at its origin. When it cuts, it erodes rock, and so the river's
length is extended.

b. Subsequent streams- Its flow path is determined by the headward

erosion by the original stream and is independent of original contours
of the surface. Its path is determined by weak rock belts.
c. Obsequent streams are streams flowing in the opposite direction of
the consequent drainage.
d. Insequent streams
Have an almost random drainage often forming dendritic
patterns. These are typically tributaries and have developed by
headward erosion on a horizontally stratified belt or on
homogeneous rocks.
These streams follow courses that apparently were not
controlled by the original slope of the surface, its structure or
the type of rock

As consequent stream wears down the surface while flowing, it is

joined by several other tributaries either obliquely or at right angle
depending upon Alignment of rocks
Degree of resistance of rocks

Types of Drainage patterns- (To be updated later from various sources)

1. Dendritic drainage- (Dendron, a Greek word means a tree)
Formation Beds of rocks are homogenous
This means that they have uniform resistance to erosion
This causes oblique streams called Insequent streams to join
the main valley as tributaries
2. Trellised drainageFormation

Alternate layers of hard and soft rocks exist

Stream tends to follow the pattern of rock structure
If outcrops of rock are at right angle to the main valley
Streams meet the main valley at right angle as subsequent
Drainage pattern so obtained will be rectangular in shape

The mechanism of Humid ErosionHumid erosion covers the matters of erosion caused running water,
rain-water, river etc.
Mass Movement is also affected by this.

The process of river action-

While running, rivers carry eroded materials which comprises rivers

load. Three categories of rivers load-

1. Materials in solution Comprises of minerals dissolved in water

2. Material in suspension Comprises of materials such as silt, sand and mud which are
carried away suspended in the water in the course of river flow
3. Traction load Comprises of larger size materials such as boulders, rocks,
pebbles, stones, etc which are rolled along the bed of river as
river flows
RationaleThe transportation capacity of river depends upon followinga. Volume of the water
b. Velocity of the flow
On doubling the velocity, transportation power increases by
almost 10 times. Thus, flow and transportation capacity of river is
dependent upon seasons. It becomes very high during flood times
c. Size, shape and weight of the load
Significance On an average, around 200 tons of suspended solid materials
and about 50 tons of dissolved solid materials per square mile of
earths surface is carried away in a year
Drainage basin is lowered slowly
Examplesa. River Mississippi-It drains about half the land area of USA and
transport about 2 million tons of eroded materials to the Gulf of Mexico

b. The Irrawaddy- It is swift-flowing River and it lowers its drainage

basin by about a foot in about 400 years

River erosion and transportationBoth occur simultaneously. Various processes1. Corrasion or abrasion Caused by traction load
Involves mechanical grinding of bed and bank of the river
Two typesa. Lateral corrasion Caused by hurling of load against the sides of the river.
Widens V-shaped valley
b. Vertical corrasion Caused by rolling of load materials along the bed of river

Deepens the river channel

2. Corrosion or Solution Various soluble or semi-soluble rocks are dissolved in the water
either fully or partly
Limestone is greatly dissolved in water forming solution

3. Hydraulic action Mechanical loosening and transporting by river water itself

River water splashes against the sides of river and widens cracks
in them by promoting the disintegration process
It undermines the softer rocks from the bed too
It carries away the disintegrated materials from banks and bed
with it

4. Attrition Process of wear and tear of the transported materials

Occurs due to collisions among themselves, rolling along bed
and hurling against sides
Boulders are broken into smaller stones
Angular rocks are rounded and converted into pebbles
Finer materials are carried to be deposited in lower lying areas

The upper course or mountain course- (in the age of youth)

Basics It starts from the source, near the watershed which is generally
crest of the mountain
Formation of deep, narrow valleys-

Water flows swiftly down the steep slope

Main action is vertical corrasion (down cutting)
Rate of vertical corrasion is so high that the lateral corrasion fails
to keep pace with it
High rate of vertical corrasion and relatively much lower rate of
lateral corrasion cause formation of deep, narrow valleys
Various Casesa. Very resistant rocks area- In these cases, the relative rate of
lateral corrasion is much lesser and very deep and narrow valley
called gorges are formed
E.g. Indus Gorge in Kashmir
b. Arid-region- Very little rainfall does not let much of lateral
corrasion to occur and an extremely deep valley called canyons are
Bryce Canyon, Utah, USA

Various outstanding features created-

1. River capture- (River piracy or river beheading)

Formation One side of watershed may receive more precipitation than the
other side causing differential headward erosion (back-cutting)
at the two sides of divide
The drainage basin area at the side, where the rate of headward
erosion is more, increases at the expense of other side basin
Sometimes, the stream may break through the watershed and
capture or pirate a part of the stream of other side river
The bend at which piracy occurs is called the elbow of capture
The beheaded stream is called misfit
The valley below the elbow is called wind gap and may be used
for constructing roadways or railways lines

Examples Upper Sittang captured by Irrawaddy in Burma

The Blyth and Wansbeck are beheaded by the North Tyne in
Northumberland, England

2. Rapids, Cataracts & WaterfallsThese can be present at any course of the rivers though it is generally
present in the upper course because changes in gradient here is more
abrupt and frequent.
RapidsFormation Bands of softer and harder rocks possess different resistances to
The outcrop of harder rocks cause water to jump or fall downsteam forming rapids
CataractsRapids of greater dimensions are called cataracts.
Examplea. Five cataracts are present along the way of Nile
Hinders smoother navigation along the river
WaterfallWhen water falls down from a height waterfall is formed.
Plunge-pool- The greater force of water plunging down creates
plunge-pool beneath.
Ways of formation-

A. Resistant rock lying transverse to the river valley.

Examples Niagara Falls, USA- 167 feet high
Kaieteur Falls, Guyana- 825 feet high

B. When fault-line cliff formed as a result of faulting lie in the way of

river course
Victoria fall, on the River Zambezi- 360 feet high

C. When water plunges down from edge of a plateau

Livingstone fall- River Congo leaps for about 900 feet through a
series of more than 30 rapids over 350 kilometres as Livingstone
4. Interlocking SpursAn interlocking spur is a natural geographical feature that occurs in the
upper course of a river in which vertical erosion is the dominant force
determining the river's course.
Vertical corrasion creates new slopes which are in interlocking fashion
known as interlocking spurs.

D. Glaciations produce hanging valleys. Tributary streams falls down

from hanging valleys to the U-shaped valley below.
Yosemite falls, California- total descent is 2,560 feet

The Middle-Course- (Valley Course)

Basics Lateral corrasion tends to replace vertical corrasion
Active erosion of banks widens the V-shaped valleys
Volume of water increases on the account of merging of several
Rivers load increases as volume increases
Major river action is of transportation with a little of depositions
Interlocking spurs, that projects from the both sides of valley
are cut back into lines of bluffs
The rivers triple action of valley-cutting, bed smoothening and
debris removal becomes tranquil during the valley course though
the speed does not decrease
Various Features formed1. MeanderTerm derived from winding river Meanderez in Asia Minor.
Formation The irregularities over the surface cause river to swing in loops
Soon, rivers flow in a snake pattern
Flow or speed is more toward outward side of the loop than inner
side because of centrifugal force
So, active erosion is caused at the outer side and deposition at
the inner side
As the bends are restricted by the interlocking spurs, the
meander formed in the middle course is just the starting of
downstream swing
In lower course, the loops are enlarged across the level plain and
fully fledged meanders are formed
Rivers Cliff- Active erosion at the outer edge leads to its formation in
due course of time.
Rivers beach or Slip-off slope-Deposition at the inner side of the
loop leads to its formation in due course of time
(Meanders are formed in both middle and lower course?)

(Interlocking spurs are feature of upper course but are formed in


The lower course- (Plain course)

Basic features and consequences Vertical corrasion almost ceases though lateral corrasion
continue to erode the banks of river

The volume of river becomes much higher with several

tributaries joining it
The amount of rivers load becomes very high. The coarser
materials are deposited and finer silts are carried to the mouth
The main action is transportation
Deposition of Several sheets of materials on the level plain
cause the river to split into several streams called the braided
Several remarkable features1. Flood PlainsFormation During annual or sporadic floods, rivers spreads out off their
banks over adjacent low-lying area
During this they deposit a layer of sediments on the surface
This accruing deposition leads to the formation of flood plains
over due course of time which are generally very fertile
River bed- Beds are elevated as the sediments are deposited
Levee- Deposition of sediments near the banks of river leads to
formation of natural elevated bank called levee
Examples of rivers causing regular floodsa. Yang-Tze Kiang
b. Mississippi
c. River Po
d. The Ganges
e. Huang-Ho
Also called Chinas sorrow
Flood of 1852 drowned millions of people and caused severed
property damage
Rivers course was diverted over 300 miles, draining into the
Gulf of Pohai instead of Yellow Sea

Humans measures to prevent flooda. Artificial Embankments- These are created over the levee to
prevent the flood from occurring. Though it also leads to rise in the
height of rivers water and the bank may bursts if the pressure
becomes very high causing devastating flood.
b. Dredging of bed deepens the channel preventing excessive

2. Ox-Bow lakes-(Mort-lake/ dead lake)

Called as cut-offs or bayous in the Mississippi basin.
Formation In lower course, the meander become very prominent
The outside bend is so much eroded that the loop enlarges to
become a complete circle

In due course of time, river break through the thin neck of the
loop, abandoning the ox-bow lake
River flows straight thereafter
Features Subsequent flooding may silt up the lake forming swamps
Gradually marshes are formed and in due course of time the lake
dries up

3. Delta- (Greek word depicting shape similar to Nile delta)

Formation Much of the finer particles being carried by river remains in it
until the river reaches the sea
As river reaches the sea, these fine particles are deposited in a
fan-shaped manner
Features It is basically extension of flood plain
Alluvium deposits cause the river to split up into distributaries
Deltas extend sideways and seaways at an amazing rate
Examples with significancea. Ganges Delta Of size almost equal to West Malaysia
b. River Po delta Extends dramatically in size, i.e. 40 feet per year
The town of Adria located near 15 miles inland was formed by its
deposition. It was a seaport during the time of Christ
Factors influencing size, shape, growth and importance of deltasa. Features of river and its course Depth of river

Active vertical and lateral corrasion during the upper and middle
course promotes the formation of deltas
Presence of larger lakes hinders in formation of deltas as a large
amount of sediments are deposited in the lake only
b. Features of the sea Depth of sea should be less in order to promote the formation of
delta. Deeper sea will lead to sinking of the sediments
Coast should be sheltered preferably tideless to promote the
formation of delta. Otherwise tides will sweep away the sediments
There should be no strong currents at the right angle of delta
to promote the formation of delta. Otherwise currents will sweep
away the sediments
Types of deltas with relevant examplesA. Birds foot delta Delta of Mississippi river- Several major branches of this delta, like
foot of the bird extends to Gulf of Mexico
B. Fan-shaped arcuate deltas- Have numerous distributaries
The Ganges, India
River Nile, Africa
River Mekong

C. Estuarine deltas- Delta partly submerged in coastal water

Ob, Russia
Amazon, South America (Mostly Brazil)
Vistula, Poland

d. Cuspate deltas- Have tooth like projections at their mouth

Ebro of Spain

River RejuvenationCause-

Uplift or depression caused in the course of rivers development may

create characteristic features associated with the rejuvenation that
means being young again.
Mode of Occurrence1. Negative MovementDifferent causesa. Uplift The down-cutting power of river in renewed
River cuts deep into their valleys
b. Lowering of sea level in relation to flood plain River with its renewed vigour cuts deep into the prior flood plain
forming terraces on both the sides
There remains a break in the graded profile of the river, often
accompanied with a series of rapids.
The point where old profile meets the rejuvenated profile is known as
Knick Point or Rejuvenated Head.
Effects in different coursesa. Upper course Valley are extremely deep-cut
Steep-sided gorges are formed
b. Middle and Lower course Lateral corrasion is replaced by vertical corrasion
Existing meanders are deep-cut due to intense vertical erosion
forming entrenched or incised meanders

Examples of entrenched meandersi) Those of River Colorado, USA-

Formed by uplift of 7000 feet in Tertiary period

Grand Canyon- (formed by river Colorado)
In some parts depth is almost a mile
10 miles wide at the top
300 miles long

ii) River Moselle, Germany

iii) River Wear, Durham, England

iv) Wye Valley, Monmouthshire (border of England and Wales)

2. Positive movementCausesa. Depression of land

b. Rise in sea level In most areas, this is caused by release of water earlier locked in
the masses of ice in Quaternary ice-period

General Effects

Coastal lands are submerged in coastal water

Valleys are drowned
Erosive power of river is weakened
River flow is checked and a huge quantity of materials being
carried by it dare dropped

Effects on the courses of rivera. Upper course Very little affected by rise of sea level
b. Middle course Features of depositions may get shifted to the middle course
c. Lower course It may occur partly in sea

The Human Aspects of RiversApplications/ Advantages1. Serve as Chief highways for commerce and transportationa. Yang-Tze Kiang Navigable up to 1000 miles from its mouth
b. Amazon (Worlds largest river) Navigable up to 2300 miles upstream till the foot of Andes
Though less extensively used

c. River Nile- (Have many Cataracts)

Navigable for its first 960 miles upstream, up to the First
Cataract at Aswan

d. Mississippi
e. Mekong
f. Rhine
g. St. Lawrence, North America
h. Irrawaddy, Burma
i. Congo, Africa
j. Darling, Australia
k. Murray, Australia
l. Danube, Europe

Danube river

These serve as important waterways in their respective countries for

transportation of bulky goods, raw materials, food-grains, wood logs

2. Generation of hydro-electric power In upper course rivers with steep gorges and waterfalls provide for
setting up hydro-electric power plants
These provide source of cheap-power to various industries thus
support their establishments
3. Construction of Dam Hold a large amount of flood water which prevents flood in lower
Channelize the held water for useful purposes
E.g.- Dams constructed in the Indus and Ganges plain

4. Irrigation purpose Main stream can be used to feed irrigation canals which helps
in proper irrigation of crops, thus improving yields
Very important source of water for irrigation particularly in areas
receiving low rainfall e.g. Egypt and Chao Phraya basin in

5. Improving land communication in uplands Wind gaps created as a result of River Capture near the
watershed facilitate construction of upland roads and railways
6. Support agriculturea. Flood-Plains Flood-plain of large rivers with their thick mantle of silt form
very rich agricultural lands
b. Deltas These are equally fertile
Examplesi) The Ganges delta- Accounts for almost all the jute produced for
worlds consumption
ii) The Nile delta- Finest quality cotton and a variety of rice are
7. Productive areas support ports-

Calcutta for the Indo-Gangetic Plain

Rotterdam for the Rhineland
New Orleans (L.A.) for Mississippi basin
8. Fresh-water fishing Organic matters brought by the rivers provide valuable food to
9. Rivers supply water for domestic consumption, sewerage,
industrial consumption, etc
10. Forms Political boundaries Mekong separates the Laos from Thailand
River Yalu form well-defined boundary between the North
Korea and Russia

Disadvantages1. Hindrance in navigation Presence of rapids and waterfalls interrupts regular navigation
through the rivers
Seasonal variation in volume and flow of water also interrupts it
Frequent changes in the paths of rivers also hinders in navigation
2. Problem in establishment of large ports-

Larger amount of silt deposited by river during the lower course

hinders in effective anchoring of larger steamers
So, estuaries are preferred for building ports than deltas
Artificial Harbours may be established or dredging may be done to
prevent this problem but these methods are very expensive and
sometimes impractical.

3. Frequent floods River breaking out the levee causes flood destroying crops,
properties, etc
These floods may discourage people from cultivating crops like in
case of Orinoco river

Though floods caused by rivers may deposit silt rendering soil fertile.

Landforms of Glaciations

The Ice Age and Types of Ice MassesPleistocene period or ice-age (about 30, 000 years ago) scenario About 12 million square miles of Northern Hemisphere was
covered with ice sheets
Half of this was in North America, rest in Europe, Greenland and
the high mountains of Eurasia
Current ScenarioTwo major Ice sheets are present, in Greenland and Antarctica
Greenland with an area of about 720, 000 square miles
Antarctica with an area of about 5 million square miles
Glaciations are still evident on the highlands in various parts of
the world which are above snowline
Snowline varies from sea level in polar regions to 9000 feet in
the Alps and 17,000 feet at the equator (Mt. Kilimanjaro)
Snowline- The climatic snow line is the point above which snow and ice
cover the ground throughout the year.

Facts/ Things They are composed of compact sheets of ice hardened and
crystallised to depth over a mile
In Marie Byrd Land, Antarctica the thickness of Ice cap was
found to be 14,000 feet
Under weight of the ice cap, land sinks gradually

Basic thingsa. Ice cap- These are Ice mass that covers less than 50 000 km of
land area (usually covering a highland area).
From the central dome of ice cap, the ice creeps out in all the
directions to flow as glaciers
b. Ice sheet- Masses of ice covering more than 50 000 km are
termed an ice sheet.
c. Ice shelf- These are thick floating platform of ice formed when
glaciers or ice caps flows down to coastline and onto the sea
They terminate in precipitous cliffs. These are found only in
Antarctica, Canada and Greenland.

d. Ice Bergs- These are large piece of freshwater ice that is broken
from glacier or ice shelf and floats freely in an open water.
These assume tabular or irregular shape and only one-tenth mass
is visible above the surface.
These diminish in size when approaching warm water and eventually
melt completely, dropping the rocks debris that was frozen inside
them on the sea bed.
e. Nunataks- A nunatak is an exposed, often rocky element of a
ridge, mountain, or peak not covered with ice or snow within (or at
the edge of) an ice field or glacier.
f. Glaciers- These large masses of snow, re-crystallized ice and rock
debris that accumulate in great quantities and begin to flow outwards
and downwards under the pressure of their own weight.
Formation When the slope is gentle and the hollow is sheltered from the
direct sunlight and fast moving wind, snow accumulates rapidly
The surface snow melts during daytime but the molten ice
refreezes by nightfall
Repetition of this process continues till hard, granular mass of
ice is formed called neve (in French) or firn (in German)
Owing to the gravitational force, this mass of ice moves to valley
from the upland
This is the beginning of flow of glacier, that is river of snow
Flow of glaciers Though it is a solid mass of ice, it flows under the continual
pressure of accumulating ice mass above
The speed of flow is maximum at the middle of the glacier and is
less at the sides and back of it due to resistance offered to these
by the side spurs and floor friction of the surface
The stakes driven into the glacier in the straight line, width-towidth arches down with time as glacier flows downwards
It assumes tongue shape, broadest at the source and narrows as
it moves downhill

Average rate of flowa. Alpine region- about 3 feet per day

The Aletsch Glacier in Bernese Oberland of Switzerland
(longest glacier in Europe) is about 10 miles long
b. Greenland- about 50 feet per day
c. Antarctica- a few feet per day owing to less receipt of sunlight
The glaciers in Himalayas and Alaska region are more than 50 miles
Piedmont glaciersFormation Several glaciers may converge at the foot of mountain ranges
An extensive mass of ice called Piedmont glacier is formed
Example Malaspina glacier- 65 miles long and 25 miles wide covering an
area 1600 square miles
Such combined glaciers are rare and in most continents only
Valley or Alpine glaciers are seen

Landforms of Highland GlaciationsGlaciations play role of erosion, transportation and deposition

throughout its course, though it generally produces Erosional
features in highlands and depositional features in lowlands
Modes of erosiona. Plucking Joints and beds of underlying rocks are frozen
Individual blocks are tore away and dragged
a. Abrasion-

While flowing, it scratches, scours and polishes the floor

underlying it with the help of debris carried by it
Larger angular fragments deep cut the surface of valley
forming evident by presence of scratches and striation
Smaller angular fragments polish and smoothen the surface
and produce finely powdered Rock Floor
Factors affecting rate of flow

Velocity of flow
Weight of glacier
Slope of valley
Temperature of ice composing glacier
Geological structure of valley

Characteristic features1. Corrie (in Scotland)/ Cirque (French)/ CWM (in Wales)Formation Down-slope movement of glacier from the ice-covered peaks
and breaking (weathering by frost action) of upland slope leads
to formation of a depressions
Fern or neve are accumulated in these depressions
As ice moves, tensional crevasses called Bergschrund are
Melt-water enters the crevasses causing freeze-thaw to occur
This causes plucking of rocks from the back-wall and steep
slope is formed
Abrasion causes the floor of depression to deepen forming a
horse-shoe shaped basin called corrie
Corrie Lake or tarn or Lochan A ridge is formed at the end of this basin
This ridge acts as a barrier and water is accumulated behind it
forming tarn

2. Artes (French word) and Pyramidal peaksFormation of Artes Sometimes two corries are cut back on the opposite sides of
It causes formation of a knife-edged ridge called Artes
Example Striding edge on Helvellyn in Westmorland

Formation of Pyramidal peaks or angular horns Sometimes three or more corries cut back together
It causes formation of pyramidal peak
Example Matterhorn of Switzerland

3. Burgschrund (German)/ Rimaye (French)Formation As the glacier tend to move out of the corrie, ac deep vertical
crack opens up near its head called Rimaye
This generally occurs in summer when sufficient snowfall is not
Sometimes several such cracks occur
It acts as a major obstacle for the climbers.
As glacier flows over the bend or precipitous slope, more Crevasses
are formed.

4. U-shaped glacial troughsFormation Ice is fed to the glacier from several corries just like tributaries
feed river
Glacier starts eroding the sides as well as the floor of the valley
Characteristic U-shaped valleys with wide, flat floor and very
steep sides are formed in due course of time
Truncated spurs formation Glacial flow grinds the projecting spurs and produce flat triangular
Interlocking spurs are thus converted into truncated spurs
Ribbon lake / Trough Lake/ Finger LakeFormation After disappearance of ice from these long, narrow glacial
troughs, water may fill it
Thus Ribbon lakes are formed

Examples Loch Ness, Britain

Lake Ullswater, Britain

5. Hanging valleyFormation Rate of erosion of main valley is much more than that of
tributary valley as the mass of ice in main valley is much higher
Because of this the floor of tributary valley becomes at much
higher level than the floor of main valley
As the ice melts the tributary valley seem to be hanging above
main valley and so is called hanging valley
Benefits Water may plunge down the hanging valley forming waterfall
This natural head of water can be used for generating hydroelectricity

6. Rock basinFormation Erosion and excavation caused by glaciers are of irregular pattern
Thus, several rock basins are formed in water lakes may form in
the trough
7. Rock stepsFormationa. Mode 1 When ice from a tributary valley is added to the main valley,
the weight of glacier increases
The heavier glacier cuts even deeper into the valley trough at
the point of convergence
Thus, rock steps are formed
b. Mode 2 Bedrocks may possess different degree of resistance to the
glacial erosion
Thus, it gets eroded to different depths at different places forming
rock steps

8. Morainesa. Lateral Moraines Rocks are shattered (weathered) by frost action, imbedded into
the glacier and are carried down the valley
They are dropped and deposited as lateral moraines
b. Medial moraines When two glaciers converges, the lateral moraines converge to
form medial moraine
These are dropped near the middle of the valley
c. Terminal or end moraines-

As glacier reaches the foot of the valley, it eventually melts

End moraines are deposited at the snout in this process
d. Ground moraines Rock fragments may lie beneath the frozen ice mass and
dragged with the glacier
As the glacier melts, these are spread across the floor of the
e. Recessional moraines Ice melts at the foot of valley in stages, as it reaches there
Thus, successive waves of terminal moraines are formed called
recessional moraines
f. Sea case If glacier flows to the sea it drops its load of moraines in sea itself
If a piece breaks off from the glacier and floats into the sea as
icebergs, the moraines will be dropped only when the iceberg
g. Fjord When lower end of trough is drowned
A deep, steep-sided inlet called fjord is formed
Example Norwegian coast
South Chilean coast

Landforms of Glaciated LowlandsBasics Landforms are mainly depositional in nature

But where rock masses projects above the level surface,
Erosional features such as Roche Moutonnee, crags and tails
are formed

Can be formed by glaciers or continental ice-sheet

Depositional features created by ice-sheets are much
widespread and prominent as they have moved across much
larger area than glaciers which leave behind the materials only
in restricted areas
Almost one-third of land-surface of Europe and North America
is believed to be littered with glacial and fluvio-glacial materials
of all description (described later)
Glacial Deposits

Fluvio-glacial Deposits (includes deposits once

deposited by ice and re-deposited by meltwater)

Un-stratified (difficult to identify layers)

Material is angular, from physical
weathering and erosion (unaffected by
water) and various shapes and sizes
(boulders - rock flour)
Unsorted (random sorting as ice melts and
deposits material regardless of size)

Stratified (vertical layering due to seasonal

/ annual layers of sediment accumulation)
Material is smooth and rounded (due to
attrition), it is sorted and graded.

Sorted - larger rocks and boulders are

deposited first as the melt-water looses

Landforms created1. Roche Moutonnee- (resembles sheep-skin wig once worn in France)
These are residual resistant Rock Hummock. These are eroded as
the glacier flow past these.
Upstream side is smoothened and a gentle slope is formed by the
action of abrasion
Downstream side is roughened and very steep slope is created by
the plucking action of glaciations
The surface is striated by the ice movement

It is present both in highlands and lowlands.

2. Crag and tailsFormation Crag is a resistant rock with precipitous (extremely steep) slope
It prevents the softer rocks at leeward side from being completely
eroded by the on-coming glacier
Thus the softer side assumes tails shape, strewn with rocks debris
Example Castle Rock of Edinburg, Scotland (Castle is located on the Crag
and high Street on tail)

3. Boulder clay or glacial tillComposition Unsorted glacial deposits comprising of a range of eroded
E.g. Boulders, angular fragments, sticky clay, rock flour
Features These do not accumulate to form mounds
These spread out in sheets forming drift or till plain
Degree of fertility of land depends greatly upon the
composition of materials deposited
The landform is rather monotonous and featureless
Examples Boulder clay plain of East Anglia and North mid-west part of
USA form rich arable (fertile) land

4. Erratic(s)These are termed so because they are composed of materials

entirely different from the materials of the region in which they are

Boulders of various sizes are carried by glaciers or ice sheets

from one to another place
When ice melts, these glaciers or ice-sheets deposits the
boulders carried by them forming erratics
Significance Presence of erratics help in predicting the source and direction
of advancement of ice
Disadvantages Presence of erratics in large number act as hindrances in the

Perched BlocksSometimes these erratics are found to be perched (sitting) in

precarious (odd/ dangerous) position and are called perched blocks
ExamplesThese are found in both uplands and lowlands.
Generally in Europe
Silurian grits, perched on the Carboniferous Limestone of the

5. DrumlinsFeatures These are swarm (group) of oval, elongated, whale back

hummocks (small natural hill)
Composed wholly of Boulder Clay
Height varies from few yards to 400 feet
Length can be a mile or two
These are tapered in the leeward side
Elongation is towards downstream flow side
These have steep slope at the onset (beginning/ early stage)

They are arranged diagonally and so are called to have Basket

of Eggs topography

Examples Country down, Northern Ireland

Glaciated plains around Great Lakes, North America

6. EskersFeatures

Long, narrow, sinuous (curving in and out) ridges

Composed mainly of sand and gravel
Height varies from few feet to 200 feet
Length may be several miles
Because of high porosity, water is rapidly drained off the crest
and many trees are not supported (though eskers of Finland
between lakes are generally tree-covered)

Examplesa. In Maine, USA- 100 miles long eskers are there

b. Generally found in Scandinavia
Punkaharju esker, Finland

7. Terminal morainesFeatures-

Composed of coarse debris

Deposited at the edge of ice-sheet
Form hummocky or hilly structure
Example Baltic Heights of North-European Plain
North-European Plain- consists generally of Poland, Denmark, Germany
and Netherland.

8. Outwash plainFormation Formed by fluvio-glacial deposits

Streams and channels of melt-water from stagnant ice wash out
materials from Terminal moraines
Melt-water sorts and re-deposits the materials forming various
features associated with the plain
Features associatedA variety of features ranging from low hilly heathlands to undulating
plains are created where terraces, alluvial fans and deltaic deposits of
melt-water streams form landscape.
a. Kames- These are small rounded hills composed of sand and gravel
b. Kettle lakes- If an alternating ridges and depressions are
created then the later may form Kettle lakes
This gives rise to knob and kettle topography.
Example of heathland Luneburg Heath of North European Plain

The Human Aspects of Glaciated LandformsGeneral aspects-

Even after 30, 000 years of ice age, the effects of glaciations are
still evident
The most striking impact is on temperate region of Europe and
North America
Effects of glaciations can be seen on high mountains of Alps,
Himalayas, Rockies and Andes even now
Glacial influence on humans economic activities can be both
favourable and unfavourable based on Intensity of glaciations
Relief of region
Whether effects are Erosional or depositional in nature
Advantages/ benefitsa. Glacial drift (Wander from a direct course) in valleys, Alps etc which
(valleys etc) were not affected by glaciers (land not rendered
unfertile by glacial action) have good pastures during summer. Cattle
are driven up to valley to graze on the grass and are brought down the
valley during winter. Such form of animal-migration type of farming is
called Transhumance
Transhumance is the seasonal movement of people with their livestock between fixed
summer and winter pastures. In montane regions (vertical transhumance) it implies
movement between higher pastures in summer and lower valleys in winter.

b. Formation of fertile lands Boulder clay plain of East Anglia and mid-west of USA
Loess plain of Europe and Central USA with high percentage of
humus is also very fertile
When lakes are eliminated, the old glacial lake beds with rich
alluvial deposits support many crops
c. Forms Waterways Lakes formed as a result of former glaciations forms excellent
E.g. Great Lakes of USA
d. Forms Route-ways-

Glaciers cut deep channels while draining off which forms

excellent route-ways in the mountainous terrain (a piece of
ground having specific characteristics)
E.g. Hudson-Mohawk Gap which links the interior to the
Atlantic seaboard of USA
e. Sands and gravels are extracted from kames and eskers of the
outwash plain for Constructing buildings and highways
The purest sands are extracted for making moulds for metal
f. Lakes basins of glaciated mountains acts as natural reservoirs
g. Producing hydro-electricity Water that plunge down from the hanging valleys or glaciated
uplands is used to produce hydro-electricity
Especially in areas having less coal reserves such as
Scandinavia, Switzerland and Canada
h. Acts as a tourist place Magnificent Scenery provided by the Glacier Mountains attracts
a large number of tourists annually. Skiing, mountain climbing and
sightseeing is very famous in Alpine region
E.g. French, Swiss and Italian Alpine region
Disadvantagesa. Renders land infertile In hilly areas such as mountain ranges of Scandinavia, the
glacial advancement removes the top soil rendering the area
Even if a thin layer of top soil remains, it cannot support
Sandy and gravelly outwash plain is infertile. E.g. the heathcovered geest of Northern Germany
The marshy boulder clay deposits of Central Ireland is

The barren and ice-scoured surface of Canada and Baltic

Shield are infertile
Presence of erratics and perched blocks in large numbers
hinders farming and use of large machines.E.g.in Britain and in
Alberta, Canada.
Lakes formed because of damming caused by Morainic deposits
or scouring caused by glaciers hinder large-scale farming or land

b. Presence of drumlins renders drainage system either very complex

or confusing
c. Terminal and recessional materials are of not much use to men until
it is sorted by fluvio-glacial action

Arid or desert landforms

Types of DesertsAbout one-fifth of the world is covered with deserts, some sandy,
some rocky and some stony.
Basic classificationa. True deserts Characterised by an extreme dryness
Nothing grows at all
Are rare
b. Tropical hot deserts/ Trade Wind DesertsThey have definite pattern of their occurrence-

Lie mostly within 15 to 30 degree parallels of latitudes south

and north of the Equator
Lie in the Trade Wind Belt of the western parts of the continents
where Trade Winds are off shore
Are washed by cold currents which produce desiccating
effects and prevents moisture to condense into precipitation

The great Sahara Desert

The Arabian, Iranian and Thar deserts
The Atacama, Namib and Kalahari deserts
The Great Australian desert
Desert of South-west USA
Desert of Northern Mexico

c. Deserts of continental interiors Characterised by extreme of temperatures

Examples Gobi desert
Turkestan desert

Five distinct types of desertsErosion of uplands, transportation and deposition of worn off materials
by wind and water have given rise to the five distinct types of desertsa. Hamada or Rocky desert Consists of large stretches of bare rocks, swept clear of sand and
dust by the wind
The exposed rocks are smoothed and polished
Are bare and sterile
Examples Hamada el Homra, in Libya of Sahara Desert- covers an area of
about 20,000 sq. miles.
b. Serir (Libya & Egypt) or Reg (rest of Africa) or Stony Desert Consists of extensive sheets of angular stones and gravels
which the winds could not sweep away
Much more accessible than the Sandy Deserts are large herds of
Camels are kept here
c. Erg or Koum (Turkestan) or Sandy Desert-

A sea of sand typifying the popular idea of desert scenery

Extensive stretches of undulating sand dunes are deposited
by the winds
Intricate patterns of ripples on the surface of sand dunes can be
used to determine the winds direction
Example Calanscio Land Sea, Libya (Characteristic of a sandy deserts)

d. BadlandsDeserts with the features similar to badlands are referred to a

Badlands Term was first coined for the arid region of South Dakota, USA
Occasional rain-storm in the hilly areas of this region caused
excessive erosion of hill slopes and rock surfaces carving out
ravines (A deep narrow steep-sided valley) and gullies (Deep ditch
cut by running water)
The hills were so badly eroded that these were completely
abandoned by the inhabitants and so are called badlands
Example Painted Desert of Arizona- Lie south-east of Grand Canyon of
Colorado River
e. Mountain deserts Some deserts are found on the highlands such as plateaux and
Dissection of these highlands due to erosion has created
serrated (saw-toothed) outlines of peaks and ranges
Their steep slopes are cut by wadis (steep sided valley, often
Frost action carves out irregular and sharp edges

The Ahaggar mountains and the Tibesti mountains of Sahara


The mechanism of Arid ErosionCombined effects of various modes, one reacting over another has lead
to formation of a large variety of deserts landforms.
Cause of Aridity

Insufficient rainfall (less than 5 inches)

Irregularity of rainfall
High temperature (avg.= 87 F)
High rate of evaporation

Various mechanisms of sub-aerial denudation acting1. Weathering (Mechanical and chemical) Solution mode
Temperature variation mode (exfoliation occurs)
Frost action (teeth or tools of wind erosion are formed)

2. Wind action Acts as much better agent of erosion, transportation and

deposition in arid region than humid region
Absence of vegetation or moisture to bind the loose surface
materials makes the action of wind very effective
Wind erosion is carried out in following waysa. Deflation Involves lifting and carrying away of materials (sand and
gravels) from the ground
Materials may be may be lifted and blown off or may be rolled
over the ground depending upon their grain sizes
Fine dusts and sands may be blown several hundred miles away,
sometimes outside the desert margin
Removal of materials cause lowering of land surface creating
huge depressions known as deflation hollows

Example of deflation hollows Qattara depression of Sahara Desert- lies 450 feet below the
sea level

b. Abrasion Sand blasting of the rock surfaces by the winds when they hurl
the sand being carried away by them against the rocks
Blasting cause the surface of rocks to be scratched, polished and
Impact of blasting is maximum at the base of the rocks as the
quantity of materials being carried by wind is maximum near the
base (that is why telegraph poles are protected by covering them
with metal for a foot or two)
c. Attrition Wind-borne particles collide with each other
As a result they wear each other away and are greatly reduced in
So gradually grains are reduced to millet seed sand
Landforms of Wind Erosion in Deserts1. Rock Pedestals and Mushroom rocksFormation Wind cause abrasion of softer layers of projecting rock masses
faster than the resistant layers
Irregular edges are formed on the alternating soft and hard layers
of rocks because of this process
Grooves and hollows are cut into the surfaces of rocks forming
fantastic and grotesque (odd) pillar called Rock Pedestals
Mushroom rocks These rock pedestals are further eroded near the bottom where
friction is greatest
This process of undercutting produces mushroom rocks (gour in

2. ZeugenThese are tabular masses of rock with soft rock lying beneath a surface
layer of harder rocks
Formation It is formed in the case when a layer of Mechanical weathering
open ups the joint of surface rocks
Wind abrasion then eats into the softer rock forming furrows
Harder rocks are not much abraded and stand above the furrow
created as Zeugen (10 to 100 feet high) or may overhang too
A ridges and furrows shaped landscape is created
With time the Zeugens are lowered and furrows are widened by
the wind action

3. Yardangs- (Name originated in Central Asia)

Formation These are formed when vertical bands of soft and hard rocks are
aligned in the direction of prevailing wind
Wind abrasion wears out the softer rock into long, narrow
corridors (enclosed passageway)

Harder rocks are not much eroded and overhangs (Project over)
above the corridors as steep-sided ridges called Yardangs
Examplesa. In Atacama Desert, Chile- Generally found there
b. In interior deserts of Central Asia- Well developed with height of
about 25-50 feet

4. Mesas (Spanish) and ButtesMesas- These are table shaped rock masses having a flat top and very
steep sides.
Formation Top layer of the mesas are made up of very hard rock which
inhibits denudation by both wind and water
It prevents the underlying layers from being eroded away as well
Thus a table-shaped rock mass, often separated by gorges or
Canyons are formed
Examples In Arizona- Canyon region
Table mountain of Cape Town, South Africa- On fault block
ButtesFormation Continuous denudation of mesas over ages reduces it to an
isolated hill with flat top called Buttes, often separated by deep
gorges or Canyons in arid regions

5. Inselberg- (German)
Features Isolated residual hill emerging abruptly from the plain ground

Rounded top and steep-sided

Generally composed of granite or gneiss
Generally found in desert and semi-arid areas
Formation When a plateau or valley is completely eroded away by the wind
action, resistant parts may remain and project from the ground as
Examples In northern Nigeria
In Kalahari Desert
In Western Australia

6. Ventifacts and DreikanterVentifactsThese are pebbles faceted (smooth surface created) by sand-blasting.
These are shaped and polished by the wind abrasion to shape
resembling Brazil Nuts.
Formation Angular rock fragments, mechanically weathered from
mountains and upstanding rocks, are moved by wind and are
smoothened on windward side
These pebbles with flat surface(s) are called Ventifacts
When wind changes its direction, another facet is created. These
are characterised by flat facets with edges
DreikanterA Ventifact with three wind-faceted surfaces is called Dreikanter.
These faceted pebbles form Desert Pavements, a smooth mosaic like
region covered with rock fragments and pebbles.
7. Deflation hollowsFormation-

a. Wind lifts and blow off unconsolidated materials from the surface
and depressions may be formed in this process
b. Faulting Minor-Faulting may create an initial shallow depression
Eddying action of on-coming wind erodes the weaker rocks until
water table is reached
Water seeps out forming Oases or swamps in deflation hollows
or depression
Examplesa. Faiyum Depression in Egypt- 130 feet below the sea level
b. Western USA Land was stripped of its natural vegetation cover for farming
Deflating action of winds blown off the unconsolidated materials
as sand-storm, laying waste crops and creating what today is
known Great Dust Bowl
In dust storm, winds may lift dusts 100 of feet high and carry them
thousands of miles away.

Landforms of Wind Depositions in DesertsThese are formed when winds deposits the materials being carried by
them. The distance to which the materials can be carried depends
greatly on their coarseness.
Fine dusts These are lighter and may be transported out of the deserts
limits and deposited somewhere else
Sometimes these travel as far as 2300 miles
Examples Dusts from Sahara Desert sometimes crosses the
Mediterranean and fall over Italy as blood rain or over glaciers
of Switzerland

Dust that settles in Hwang Ho basin while coming from Gobi

desert has accumulated to a depth of several hundred miles over
Coarser materials These are heavy, so are not transported out of the desert limits
These form various depositional features such as dunes, etc
within the desert limits
These landforms are rarely static and their migration pattern depends
on Size of the particles being carried by them
Direction and the velocity of the wind
Location and nature of the surface over which the particles are
being carried and the presence or absence of water and
Some major features are as follows1. DunesThese are hills of sands formed as a result of depositional action of
wind and are imparted characteristic shape as per the direction and
velocity of winds.
Basic typesa. Live dune- These are in continuous motion
b. Fixed dunes- These are rooted with vegetation and do not move
These are best represented in Erg deserts where sea of sands are
continuously moved, reshaped and re-deposited forming a variety of
Based on size, shape and alignment various types are as follows

Star dunes
Parabolic blow-out dunes
Attached or head dune
Tail dune
Lateral dune

Sword dune
Pyramidal dune
Wake dune
Smoking dune
Hairpin dune
Transverse dune
Advanced dune

Two most common dunesa. BarchansFormation Sometimes sands are accumulated over some obstacle, such as
a patch of grass or a heap of stones
These occur transversely to the wind, so frictional retardation is
minimum at the edges because of which horns thin out and are
lowered by the action of prevailing wind forming a crescent
shaped structure
Advancement Sands are driven up the windward side by the action of prevailing
wind till these reaches the crest
After reaching the crest, the sands slips down the leeward side
In this way, the dune advances
Rate of advancement varies from 25 feet per year for higher
dunes measuring up to 100 feet high to 50 feet per year for lower
dunes which may be a dozen feet high
Features Crescent or moon shaped which may occur individually or in
Move steadily by the action of wind coming from the prevailing
Windward side is convex with gentle slope while leeward side
(slip face) is concave with steep slope
The crest of the dune moves forward as more sands are
accumulated by the prevailing wind

Disadvantages of migration Migrating dunes may encroach on the oasis burying trees and
houses, thus are threat to humans
Long-rooted sand holding plants and trees are planted into these
dunes to prevent it from wandering and devastating fertile lands
These dunes take chaotic (unpredictable/ unorganised) shapes
under the action of winds which change directions. Sometimes
these coalesce to form irregular system of ridges. Ergs or
sandy deserts are thus very difficult to be crossed
Examples Prevalent in deserts of Turkestan and Sahara
b. Seifs or Longitudinal Dunes- (Arabic word meaning Sword)
Features Lie parallel to the direction of prevailing wind
Long, narrow serrated ridges of sand, often over a hundred mile
May attain height of over 200 feet
The crest-line of the seifs rises and falls in alternate peaks and
saddles in regular succession
The dominant winds that blow straight along the corridor between
the line of dunes sweep clear the corridor of the sands
The eddies that are set up blow towards the sides of the
corridors, and, having low energy, drop the sands to form dunes
In this way, the prevailing winds increases length into the
tapering linear ridges
And cross winds increases the height and width of these dunes
Examples In Sahara deserts (South of Qattara depression)
In Thar Desert
In West Australian Desert

2. Loess-

The fine dusts blown out of the deserts limits and deposited over the
neighbouring lands are called Loess.
Features Yellow in colour, friable (easily broken into small fragments or
reduced to powder) and usually very fertile
These are Fine loam, rich in lime, coherent and highly porous. Its
surface remains dry as water that falls, sinks in immediately
Deep valleys may be cut into the thick mantle of loess deposited
by the streams giving it the features of badland topography
It is so soft that roads constructed over the mantle of loess soon
sinks in and very steep walls of it is formed
Examplesa. In loess plateau of Hwang Ho basin in north-west China These yellowish loess brought from the Gobi desert is termed as
Hwangtu (meaning the yellow earth)
Most extensive deposits of loess
Spread over an area of about 250, 000 square miles
Accumulated to a depth of 200 to 500 feet
b. In France Similar depositions occurred in its parts too
Term Loess comes from Alsace, France
c. In parts of Germany, France and Belgium Here, wind-borne particles come from the edges of ice sheets
Loess termed as Limon
d. In mid-west USA Wind-borne particles are derived from ice-sheets which covered
northern North America
Loess termed as Adobe

Landforms due to water action in desertsBasics In few deserts of the world, no rainfall occurs at all
The annual precipitation in most of the deserts is very less, 5 to
10 inches in a year
Effects of thunderstorms Thunderstorms do occur during which rain falls in torrential
(abundant) downpours, producing devastating effects
Several inches of rain falls during few hours, drowning people and
flooding mud houses in the Oases
Loose gravels, sands and fine dusts are swept down the sides of
the hills
Flow of rain water cuts deep into the hills forming deep Ravines
and gorges forming badland topography. Subsequent torrents
widens and deepens the gorges cut into the hills
Flowing rain water looks like liquid mud, owing to a large amount
of materials being carried by it
Materials being carried by the flowing rainwater is deposited at
foot of the hill or mouth of the valley forming alluvial fans or dry
Several streams drop materials into these deltas
The water present in these deltas is soon lost through evaporation
caused by hot sun and downward percolation in the porous
ground, leaving mounds of debris
WadisFormation Vertical corrasion caused by the raging torrents during
cloudbursts deepens the channels and valley, forming Wadis
Features Remains dry most of the time
Chebka (Algeria)-

Formation Sometimes streams of water resulting from melting snow over the
mountains outside the desert region join the rivers stream,
resulting in the formation of exotic (characteristic of another place
) stream
These streams cut deep into the valley forming deep and steep
sided gorges, called Chebka in Algeria
Temporary lakesAlso called as Playas (USA), Salinas or Salars (Mexico) and Shotts
( northern Africa)
Formation In arid and semi-arid regions, the outflowing streams from the
uplands are both short and intermittent
These streams drain into some depression in the desert itself,
thus the drainage is completely internal
Temporary accumulation of water in these depressions leads to
formation of temporary lakes
Features These lakes have high concentration of salts because of high rate
of evaporation and percolation into ground in deserts
These forms glistering white floor after drying up
Features of the lake The base of depression consists of two features, the bajada and
the pediments
Bajada- It is depositional feature composed of alluvium deposited
by the intermittent streams
Pediments- It is an Erosional plain formed at the base surrounding
mountain scarps

Limestone and Chalk landforms

Limestone & Chalk Sedimentary rocks derived from accumulation of shells and
corals in the sea
Mainly composed of Calcite or calcium carbonate. Sometimes
contains magnesium, and are called dolomite
Chalk is the purest form of limestone, white in colour, and is
very soft
These dissolve readily in rain-water, which, with carbon dioxide
of air, forms weak acid
Region with limestone features exhibit distinct features and are
called Karst features (named after Karst district of Yugoslavia,
where such topography is particularly developed)
Characteristics features of Karst regionsKarst regions have bleak (barren) landscape, broken by precipitous
Rationale behind such characteristics There is general absence of surface drainage in these regions and
water goes underground
Streams originating over some other rocks travel a very small
distance over limestone and disappears underground
These streams cut through the joints and fissures while
penetrating downwards forming system of underground channels
As these streams reach the base and encounter the non-porous
rocks, these re-emerges onto the surface as springs or
Formation of limestone pavements Limestone are well-jointed and through these joints rain-water
enters into the underlying rocks

These streams widen and enlarge the cracks leading to formation

of the most intriguing (causing curiosity) characteristic called
limestone pavements
The enlarged cracks are called grikes and the isolated,
rectangular blocks are called Clints
These pavements may be formed beneath the soil cover and are
exposed after removal of soil cover
Sink holes These are swallow depressions/ holes formed at the surface of
limestone, as rain-water sinks into the surface at the point of
These holes are enlarged with subsequent solvent action of rainfall
Several sink holes may coalesce to form a larger hole called
Several doline may merge as a result of subsidence (sudden
collapse of something into a hollow beneath) to form an even
larger depression called uvala, some which are a mile across and
contains clayey soil from limestone, weathered after subsidence
Example of sink holes- In Gaping Ghyll in Yorkshire
Caves and Limestone gorge Rain-water etches (cuts) through the joints and fissures forming
caverns (caves) and passages
Subsidence of roof of such caverns leads to formation of
limestone gorge, such as Cheddar Gorge
Polje These a very large depressions, several hundred square miles in
area, and are generally found in Yugoslavia
Their formation partly a result of faulting
These may form temporary lakes, where the floor is close to water
Drier regions are generally fertile and can support large villages
Caves and Caverns and features adorning (make more beautiful) them-

When subterranean (beneath surface) streams descend to the

underground passage through swallow holes, the region is
honeycombed with caves and caverns, some containing ponds
and lakes
These caves and caverns are adorn with Stalactites, Stalagmites
and pillars
Stalactites- Sharp, slender and down-growing pinnacles that hang from
the roof of the caves
Formation As water carrying calcium carbonate evaporates, it leaves behind
the crystalline solid composed of lime which in due course of time
grows downwards forming Stalactites
Stalagmites- Round and fatter and more rounded growing upwards
from the floor of the caves
Formation As water drips from the roof, trickles down the stalactites and
drop onto the floor and evaporates subsequently, calcium
carbonate is deposited leading to formation of Stalagmites
Pillar In due course of time, both the stalactites and stalagmites join to
form pillars
Examples of caves where these features are prominent

Banes cave, Kuala Lumpur

Postojna Cave, Yugoslavia
Carlsbad cave, New Mexico, USA
Mammoth cave, Kentucky

The major Limestone Regions of the World

North-western parts of Yugoslavia- most characteristic stretch

Causses district, south of France
Pennines of Britain, particularly Yorkshire and Derbyshire
Kentucky region of USA
The Yucatan peninsula of Mexico
The Cockpit country of Jamaican
The Limestone Hills of Perlis

Human aspects of Karst RegionVegetation and animal grazing These regions are generally barren and at the best have a thin
layer of top soil
The porosity of rocks and absence of surface drainage makes the
proliferation of vegetations difficult, though short grasses or turfs
may be present; some sheep grazing is possible
In tropical regions, these regions have luxuriant vegetation
because of the presence of excessive rain-water, owing to heavy

Only lead is extracted, which occurs in the veins in association

with limestone
Limestone is often used as building material or quarried for
cement industries
In West Malaysia, the limestone outcrops of Main Range and
Kledang range are quarried for using it in Pan-Malaysian and
Tesang Cement Works
ChalkLandforms of chalk are different from those of limestone
These have nor a little surface drainage and valleys are generally
dry, sometimes called Coombes
These are generally covered with turfs, and in places with
woodlands (Land that is covered with trees and shrubs), and can
be used for pasture and sometimes for arable farming
Downs- (in south and south-east England)
Small rounded hill of chalk
Also found in northern France

As chalk rocks are very friable in nature, swallow-holes and

underground cave networks do not generally develop.

General Formed by accumulation of water in the hollows of the earth
Varies greatly in their sizes, shapes, depth and mode of formation
Smaller one may be of the size of a pond or pool
Larger one are so big that they are termed as sea, e.g. the
Caspian Sea which is about 760 miles long, 3215 feet deep, with
an area of about 143,550 square miles, is bigger than whole of
the Malaysia
Various typesa. Temporary and permanent Rain-water may accumulate in the depressions of undulating land
for a short period of time forming temporary lakes
Lakes, deep enough, that the rate of evaporation is never enough
to evaporate all the water accumulated in it, form permanent
b. Fresh-water and SaltyFresh-water Many of the lakes are fed by rivers and out-flowing streams, and
form fresh-water lakes
Examples Lake Geneva, Switzerland
Lake Poyang, China
Great Lakes of USA

Salty In the regions with low precipitation and intense evaporation, a

few rivers make it to sea; most of the rivers drain into lakes
forming a system of inland drainage. Due to high rate of
evaporation, the concentration of salt in these lakes increases
leading to formation of salty lakes
Examples The Dead Sea- concentration of salt is 250 parts in 1000 parts of
The Great salt lake of Utah, USA- has salinity of 220 parts per
thousand parts of water
The Black Sea- many rivers drain into it, and it has salinity of 17
parts per thousand

Playas or salt lakes are common in deserts

Life of Lakes Lakes are temporary features of the earths crust; they will
eventually be eliminated by the combined action of evaporation
and draining
In regions with unreliable rainfall, lakes dry up during the
In deserts, the combined action of evaporation, percolation and
outflow cause lakes to dry up rapidly
Lakes dry up quickly in terms of geological time
The formation and origin of lakesLakes are formed as a result of various processes and events; its
formation can be affected by one or more factors.
Lakes formed by Earth movements-

1. Tectonic lakesFormation Warping, sagging, bending and fracturing of earths crust leads to
formation of tectonics depressions
Water accumulates in these depressions forming tectonic lakes
These lakes are very large and deep, in general.
Examples Lake Titicaca- occupying a huge depression in the intermont
plateau of Andes, 12500 feet above the sea level and is the
highest Lake of the world
Caspian Lake- occupies an area of about 143 550 Square miles
and is five times larger than its nearest rival, the lake Superior
2. Rift Valley LakeFormation Rift valleys are formed by the sinking of land been two parallel
faults, narrow, deep and elongated in character
Waste accumulates into it, forming Rift Valley lakes
The floor of these lakes are often below the sea level.
Examplesa. East African Rift Valley Runs through Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia and
extend along the Red Sea to Israel and Jordan
Covers a distance over 3000 miles
b. Lake Tanganyika World's deepest Lake
4700 feet deep
C. Malwai, Rudolf, Edward and Albert lakes

D. Dead Sea 1286 feet below the earth surface

World's lowest Lake
Lakes formed by glaciation1. Cirque lakes or tarnsIt is arm-chair shaped lake formed as result of glaciation (details in the
ch. Glaciers)
Examples Red tarn- English Lake District
Ribbon lakes- These are formed by accumulation of water in the glacial
trough, and are long and deep
Lake Ullswater
2. Kettle lakesFormation These are depressions in the outwash plain left by the melting
mass of stagnant ice
These are irregular because of uneven Morainic surface
These are generally shallow and are of small size

3. Rock hollow lakesFormation These are formed by ice-scouring when valley glaciers or ice
sheets scoop out hollows on the surface

4. Lakes due to Morainic damming of valleyFormation Valley glaciers deposit moraines across the valley
These moraines may act as a barrier and water may accumulate
behind these
Both Terminal and lateral moraines are capable of damming the

5. Lakes due to deposition of glacial driftsFormation In glaciated Lowlands with a predominant drumlins landscape,
where drainage is poor, the intervening depressions may be water
Thus, lakes are formed

Lakes formed by volcanic activities1. Crater or caldera lakesFormation During volcanic eruption, the top of cone may blow off forming a
hollow depression called crater
These crater may be enlarged by subsidence into caldera
These steep Cliff bounded hollows are roughly circular in shape
These are generally dry

In case of dormant and extinct volcanoes, rain water falls directly

into the hollows and forms create or caldera Lakes as there is no
superficial outlet present
2. Lava blocked lakesFormation In volcanic regions lava may flow across the valley, solidifies and
dam the the river forming a Lake
Lakes formed due to subsidence of volcanic land surface The crust of hollow lava flow may collapse
This subsidence leaves behind a wide and shallow depression in
which a Lake may form
Lakes formed by erosion1. Karst lakesFormation Rain water carves out solution depressions in the limestone
Sometimes these depressions are clogged by debris
Because of this train waste fails to east into the limestone surface
and lakes are formed
The roof of the caverns may collapse exposing the long and make
lakes that were once underground
2. Polje lakes These are large depressions, which generally do not have surface

Water may accumulate in these forming lakes

During rainy period water may cover most of the polje's floor
But during dry season, they shrink because of seepage
3. Lakes formed due to solution action on rocks salts

Sometimes underlying layers of rock salts may be gradually

removed in solution

This leads to local subsidence in which a Lake may form

4. Wind deflated lakesFormation The deflating action of wind causes formation of depression in the
deserts. When these depressions touch the water table, water
seeps out forming lakes.
Due to excessive evaporation these lakes become salt lakes or
Examples Quattara depression
Lakes formed by deposition1. Lakes due to river deposits
Formation In due course of time, generally during floods, river shorten its
course by cutting through the meandering loops, leaving behind
ox-bow lakes