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How Tectonic Movement Shapes the Earth? Presentation created by Robert L. Martinez Primary Content Source: Geography Alive!
Scientists solved the mystery of earthquakes in the 1960s. They discovered that the lithosphere is broken into huge pieces called tectonic plates.
Earth’s lands and seas rest on these plates, which lie below the surface of the planet. The plates float like rafts on Earth’s liquid mantle.
Tectonic plates move in three ways. They can move away from each other, they can move toward each other, or they can scrape sideways past each other.
When two tectonic plates collide, one plate usually slides under the other.
Tectonic plates are incredibly heavy. When they meet, friction can lock them into place for long periods, allowing enormous pressure to build up below Earth’s crust.
We feel this sudden movement as an earthquake.
When tectonic plates collide head- on, they can build mountains in two ways.
The first way is when the pressure of colliding plates forces Earth’s crust to fold, or wrinkle, without breaking.
The resulting folds form mountains.
The Appalachian Mountains in the United States and the Ural Mountains in Russia are examples of fold mountains. Team Martinez visiting the Appalachian Mountains in 2008.
The second way in which colliding plates create mountains is when their collision causes the crust to crack into huge blocks.
The cracks between the blocks are called faults. As pressure builds up, the blocks of crust tilt and tip.
Then some tilted blocks slide upward along fault lines to form mountains.
The Sierra Nevada mountain range in California is made up of fault- block mountains, as is the West Sayan range in Russia.
Russia covers a large part of both Europe and Asia and includes several mountain ranges. X
These mountain ranges tell the story of how tectonic movement can shape a landscape.
The Ural Mountains in western Russia are considered the dividing line between Europe and Asia.
Even though Europe and Asia form one huge landmass, this division into two continents makes a good geographic sense. x
The Urals mark the place where two tectonic plates meet beneath Earth’s crust.
Over millions of years, pressure from these two colliding plates has pushed the crust upward to create the Urals.
The Urals slice through Russia from north to south. This long chain of mountains separates the Northern European Plain to the west from the West Siberian Plain to the east.
The Urals are fold mountains, formed as the two underlying plates caused Earth’s crust to wrinkle.
In some places, erosion has worn down into rolling hills.
Other parts of these mountains still have rugged peaks.
Mount Manaraga in the northern Ural Mountains is sometimes called Bear’s Paw because of its jagged ridge.
The Caucasus Mountains are n southwestern Russia.
They run west to east on a narrow strip of land between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, marking a dividing line between Europe and Asia.
Like the Urals, the Caucasus Mountains are fold mountains.
They also include volcanic formations and glaciers, which still carve the jagged landscape.
Mount Elbrus, the highest peak in the Caucuses, stands at 18,510 feet and is an extinct volcano.
The West Sayan Mountains are in southern Siberia, just west of Lake Baikal.
Around Lake Baikal, major faults separate high mountains and plateaus from deep valleys and basins.
The West Sayan Mountains are fault- block mountains. In this ranges, erosion has worn away loose soil and rocks from the peaks.
This process has left behind steep ridges and exposed layers of rock on the upper slopes of the mountains.
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