ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Top 10 Interesting and Fun Facts About Mountains, Valleys, and Caves

Updated on March 1, 2019
stuff4kids profile image

Amanda is a retired educator with many years of experience teaching children of all ages and abilities in a wide range of contexts.

Discover fascinating facts about mountains, valleys, and caves
Discover fascinating facts about mountains, valleys, and caves | Source

1. What Is a Mountain?

A mountain is an area of land raised up from the earth's crust by tectonic plate movement and/or volcanic activity. There are four main types of mountain:

  1. Fold Mountains
  2. Volcanoes
  3. Fault-Block Mountains
  4. and Dome Mountains

Each of these types of mountain is formed in a particular way. Let's take a look at each of them in turn.

Mountains can be among the most austere and yet beautiful landscapes on Earth
Mountains can be among the most austere and yet beautiful landscapes on Earth | Source

Fold Mountains

When two of the earth's tectonic plates collide, the crust at the plate edges may crumple and fold under the strain, pushing up ranges of fold mountains.

This illustration shows how the Cape Fold Mountains were formed. Fold mountains form when the earth's crust bends and buckles
This illustration shows how the Cape Fold Mountains were formed. Fold mountains form when the earth's crust bends and buckles | Source

Volcanoes

A volcano forms when magma (molten rock) from deep inside the earth erupts on to the surface, building into a tall cone. Some of the world's highest mountains are volcanoes.

This diagram shows the formation and key features of a volcano. When an eruption happens, layers of lava and ash build up into a mountain
This diagram shows the formation and key features of a volcano. When an eruption happens, layers of lava and ash build up into a mountain | Source

Fault-Block Mountains

Plate movements may squeeze layers of rock until they crack and snap. These cracks are called faults. Mountains form when a slab or block of rock is squeezed upwards.

The diagram below shows five phases in the formation of a fault-block mountain.

  1. Layers of rock form from deposited sediment and/or volcanic activity
  2. Tectonic plate movement causes the layers to lift and buckle
  3. At the highest stress point, a fault line emerges when the rock cracks
  4. As the rocks break, one layer slides over the other
  5. Over millions of years erosion alters the surface of the thrust-up rock, forming a mountain range along the fault line

A diagram showing the phases of the development of a fault-block mountain
A diagram showing the phases of the development of a fault-block mountain | Source

Dome Mountains

A large up-welling of molten rock beneath the earth's surface, called an igneous intrusion, may force up the overlying layers of rock into a huge bump. Mountains formed in this way are called dome mountains.

A photgraph of the Fresno Dome mountain, located in Madera County, California, USA
A photgraph of the Fresno Dome mountain, located in Madera County, California, USA | Source

2. Where Are the World's Major Mountain Ranges?

The map below shows the approximate locations of the world's major mountain ranges. These ranges are not only the highest but also the longest ranges of mountains in the world.

You may be interested to note that most of them follow the edges of the earth's tectonic plates.

Map of the Longest Mountain Ranges in the World

This is a map showing the locations of the world's highest and longest mountain ranges
This is a map showing the locations of the world's highest and longest mountain ranges | Source

Key to the Map

  1. Aleutian Range - 2,650 km (1,650 miles)
  2. Rocky Mountains - 4,800 km (3,000 miles)
  3. Andes - 7,200 km (4,500 miles)
  4. Brazilian Atlantic Coast Range - 3,000 km (1,900 miles)
  5. Tien Shan - 2,250 km (1,400 miles)
  6. Himalaya/Karakoram/Hindu Kush - 3,800 km (2,400 miles)
  7. West Sumatran Java Range - 2,900 km (1,800 miles)
  8. Central New Guinea Range - 2,000 km (1,240 miles)
  9. Great Dividing Range - 3,600 km (2,240 miles)
  10. Trans-Antarctic Mountains 3,500 km (2,200 miles)

3. The Life of a Mountain

Mountains are considered to have a "life cycle" much like living things. The life of a mountain is divided into three phases. These are:

  • young
  • mature
  • and ancient

Let's look at each in turn.

A Young Mountain

Mountains that formed during the last few million years, or that may still be growing, such as the Himalayas, are considered to be young mountains.

The Himalayas are considered young mountains as they were formed only a few million years ago
The Himalayas are considered young mountains as they were formed only a few million years ago | Source

A Mature Mountain

Mountains which are already several hundred million years old and have been eroded to a fraction of their original size, such as the Urals, are called mature mountains.

This photo shows the Urals, low-lying mountains eroded into the form of hills and considered to be mature mountains
This photo shows the Urals, low-lying mountains eroded into the form of hills and considered to be mature mountains | Source

An Ancient Mountain

Mountains that have now been eroded so far that they have become little more than hills along a low-lying plain are considered to be ancient mountains.

The Black Hills of Dakota are an example of ancient mountains, eroded over time
The Black Hills of Dakota are an example of ancient mountains, eroded over time | Source

4. Which Are the World's Highest Mountains?

Name
Location
Height in m (feet)
Everest
Nepal/China
8,848 (29,028)
K2
Kashmir/China
8,611 (28,251)
Kanchenjunga
Nepal/Sikkim
8,598 (28,208)
Lhotse
Nepal/Tibet
8,511 (27,923)
Makalu
Nepal/Tibet
8,480 (27,821)
Cho Oyu
Nepal
8,201 (26,906)
Dhaulagiri
Nepal
8,172 (26,811)
Manaslu
Nepal
8,156 (26,759)
Nanga Parbat
Kashmir
8,126 (26,660)
Annapurna
Nepal
8,078 (26,503)
A table showing the heights and locations of the world's 10 highest mountains

5. Biological Zones of High Mountains

High mountains have a range of biological zones based on altitude. In the lower zones, biodiversity is greatest, often with lush vegetation and a wide range of animal and insect life, while in the highest zones, it may not be possible for any form of life to survive due to the dramatic drop in temperature and the lack of oxygen.

Diagram of Biological Altitude Zones

A diagram showing the five biological zones of a high mountain
A diagram showing the five biological zones of a high mountain | Source

Key:

  1. Wide range of vegetation and wildlife
  2. Broadleaf forest
  3. Pine forest
  4. Only specially adapted high-altitude species can survive
  5. "Dead Zone" where nothing can survive

Valleys and Caves

The forces of erosion, as we have seen with mountains, are constantly attacking the land and changing its appearance. Rain flows down from mountainsides into rivers that carve the landscape with valleys. In limestone areas, rain seeps into the rock substrate, eating it away to form caves.

6. Fascinating Features of a Valley

A river valley usually begins in the mountains as a steep-sided gully cut by a fast-flowing stream. As it flows down towards the lower ground, the river slows down and the valley widens. As it nears the sea, the river flows across a wide, level flood plain. Some rivers fan out into a delta at their estuary.

The Beginnings of a Valley

The river valley begins high in the mountains as a narrow gully.

A valley starts out in the high mountains as a narrow gully through which rain water and snow-melt flow
A valley starts out in the high mountains as a narrow gully through which rain water and snow-melt flow | Source

A V-Shaped Valley

In the river's upper course, the valley has a characteristic V-shape.

The characteristic V-shaped valley of Craig y Gath in Scotland, UK
The characteristic V-shaped valley of Craig y Gath in Scotland, UK | Source

A Meandering River Valley

Once it reaches the flat plains, the river meanders back and forth as the rate of flow slows down, widening the valley.

The flow-rate slows and the river meanders through the flood plain in the widest part of the valley
The flow-rate slows and the river meanders through the flood plain in the widest part of the valley | Source

Where the River Meets the Sea

Where the river meets the sea, the valley flattens, typically covered in a thick layer of sand and mud. At this point, the river flows out into an estuary, or broadens into a fan shape known as a river delta.

The River Nith estuary, which broadens into a wide delta where it meets the sea
The River Nith estuary, which broadens into a wide delta where it meets the sea | Source

7. Types of Valley

There are four different types of valley. They are:

  1. Fjord
  2. Rift
  3. Gorge/Canyon
  4. and Wadi

Let's examine each in turn.

Fjords

In glaciated areas of the world, deep valleys are scoured out by glaciers. When a glacier melts, for example at the end of an ice age, the sea level may rise, flooding the valley to form a fjord.

Milford Sound, in New Zealand, is an example of a fjord-type valley
Milford Sound, in New Zealand, is an example of a fjord-type valley | Source

Rifts

Rift valleys form when a long, narrow block of land sinks between two faults, at places where two tectonic plates are pulling apart.

The Great Rift Valley in Africa
The Great Rift Valley in Africa | Source

Gorges and Canyons

A gorge is a deep ravine with walls that are almost vertical. A canyon is also a gorge, but usually with water flowing through, found in the desert. The source of its river is often outside the desert.

The Grand Canyon in Arizona, USA, is probably the most famous example of its kind in the world
The Grand Canyon in Arizona, USA, is probably the most famous example of its kind in the world | Source

Wadi

A wadi is a narrow, steep-sided desert valley that is usually dry. A wadi's characteristic shape is carved out by the flash floods that occur after torrential desert rainfall.

The Valley of Kings in Luxor, Egypt, is a fine example of a wadi-type desert valley
The Valley of Kings in Luxor, Egypt, is a fine example of a wadi-type desert valley | Source

8. How Are Caves Formed?

Caves are large, naturally occurring hollows in the ground, in cliffs, or in ice. There exist four main types of caves. They are:

  1. Limestone Caves
  2. Sea Caves
  3. Ice Caves
  4. and Lava Caves

Let's explore each in turn.

Limestone Caves

Most caves occur in limestone areas, because this type of rock is soluble (it dissolves) in rainwater.

A photograph of a typical limestone cave
A photograph of a typical limestone cave | Source

Sea Caves

Sea caves are formed when waves crash against the coastal rocks. Over time this wave action erodes the rock at its weakest points and caves are slowly carved out.

A photograph of a dramatic sea cave
A photograph of a dramatic sea cave | Source

Ice Caves

Ice caves are formed by streams of warmer melt-water running beneath a glacier. In time, this can result in a cave in the ice.

A photograph of an ice cave forming beneath a glacier
A photograph of an ice cave forming beneath a glacier | Source

Lava Caves

When the crust of a lava flow hardens, the molten lava beneath may flow out, leaving a hollow. This is how lava caves are formed.

A photograph of the mouth of the Lava River Cave in Oregon, USA
A photograph of the mouth of the Lava River Cave in Oregon, USA | Source

9. Fantastic Features of Limestone Caves

Limestone caves are the most common and often the most dramatic and interesting caves.

Water dripping in limestone caves leaves behind tiny amounts of calcite. These mineral deposits build up to form distinctive limestone cave features. These are known as stalagmites (if they grow up from the ground) and stalactites (if they grow down from the "ceiling"). It can take from four to four thousand years for a stalactite or stalagmite to grow one inch (2.5 cm).

Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, USA, are fine examples of limestone caves, showing all the key features of their formation
Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, USA, are fine examples of limestone caves, showing all the key features of their formation | Source

10. Record-Breaking Valleys and Caves

The Longest Fjord

The longest fjord is the Nordvest Fjord in Greenland, which extends 313 km (194 miles) inland from the sea.

The Largest Gorge

The world's largest gorge is the Grand Canyon in Arizona, USA. It's 394 km (217 miles) long and up to 1,676 m (5,499 feet) deep.

The Largest Cave Chamber

The largest cave chamber is the Sarawak Chamber in Sarawak, Malaysia. It boasts an area of 162, 700 m2 (1,751,300 square feet). The chamber is 700 m (2,300 feet) long, and has an average width of 300 m (980 feet). The lowest part of the roof is 70 m (230 feet) high.

The Longest Cave System

The longest cave system in the world is the Mammoth Cave System in Kentucky, USA. It's 560 km (348 miles) long.

The Longest Stalactite

The world's longest recorded stalactite is found in "Poll an Ionana", a cave in County Clare, Ireland. The stalactite is 6.2 m (20 feet and 4 inches) long.

The Tallest Stalagmite

The world's tallest stalagmite is found in the Kr√°snohorska cave in the Czech Republic. It stands a lofty 32 m (105 feet) from the base.

A Last Word

So, we've been up mountains and down valleys, and even deeper down into all kinds of caves. I hope you've enjoyed the journey and picked up some fascinating and fun facts along the way. The study of how mountains, valleys, and caves are formed is all part of geography and geology, more widely known as Earth Sciences. Earth scientists, women and men from all over the world, are hard at work every day discovering new information about our amazing planet. Maybe one day you'll join them.

© 2019 Amanda Littlejohn

Comments

Submit a Comment
  • stuff4kids profile imageAUTHOR

    Amanda Littlejohn 

    6 weeks ago

    Thanks, Pamela.

    I'm glad you found it interesting reading about mountains, valleys, and caves.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 

    6 weeks ago from Sunny Florida

    This is such an interesting article. I absolutely love the mountains. The fact for mountains and cares was interesting and I love your pictures.

  • stuff4kids profile imageAUTHOR

    Amanda Littlejohn 

    7 weeks ago

    Thanks, Zia.

    I'm glad you enjoyed learning about mountains, valleys, and caves.

  • aziza786 profile image

    Zia Uddin 

    7 weeks ago from UK

    Another great article. Great teacher too.

working

This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

Show Details
Necessary
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Features
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Marketing
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Statistics
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)