Mountain formation

Sichelkamm, a mountain in Switzerland

Most mountains form at places where the Earth's plates move towards one another and the planet's crust is subjected to immense forces.

For example, the Himalayas formed when the Indo-Australian plate and the Eurasian plate collided. As one plate moved below the other, what is modern day India and central Asia came together and were forced upwards creating 'fold mountains'.

The Cacasades mountain range (which includes Mount St Helens) on the west coast of the United States is formed by the oceanic crust of the Juan de Fuca plate subducting below the continental crust of the North American plate. These are volcanic mountains.

Image: Massive rock folds hint at the powerful forces that created Sichelkamm, a mountain in Switzerland (credit: Dr Juerg Alean/SPL)

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Mountain formation

Mountain formation refers to the geological processes that underlie the formation of mountains. These processes are associated with large-scale movements of the Earth's crust (plate tectonics).Folding, faulting, volcanic activity, igneous intrusion and metamorphism can all be parts of the orogenic process of mountain building. The formation of mountains is not necessarily related to the geological structures found on it.

The understanding of specific landscape features in terms of the underlying tectonic processes is called tectonic geomorphology, and the study of geologically young or ongoing processes is called neotectonics.[clarification needed]

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