Tuesday, December 5, 2023

What Is Plateau In Geography

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Largest Plateau In The World


The Tibetan Plateau is the largest plateau in the world, occupying an area of 2,500,000;km2;. The Tibetan Plateau is also the highest plateau in the world with an average elevation of 4,500 meters , Because of its high elevation, the Tibetan Plateau is nicknamed the roof of the world. The Tibetan Plateau was formed, and is still being formed, by the collision of the Indo-Australian;and;Eurasian;tectonic plates.;

The Tibetan Plateau gives rises to most of Asias major rivers. The plateau is also home to many salt and freshwater lakes. Nam Co, with an elevation of 4,718;m , is one of the worlds highest altitude saltwater lakes.

At the southern rim of the plateau lie the Himalayas. Onboard the International Space Station, astronaut Don Pettit;captured a view of a 1000 kilometer stretch of the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas. The Tibetan Plateau, with its lakes and mountains, can be seen beyond the Himalayas while the Ganges/Ganga Plains is in the foreground.

The Economic Significance Of Plains

  • Fertile soil: The plains generally have deep and fertile soil. As;they have a flat surface, the means of irrigation can be;easily developed. That is;why plains are called as the Food baskets of the world.
  • The growth of industries: The rich agricultural resources, especially of alluvial plains, have helped in the growth of agro-based industries. Since the plains are thickly populated, plenty of labour is available for the intense cultivation and for supplying the workforce for the industries.
  • Expansion of means of transportation: The flat surface of plains favours the building of roads, airports and laying down railway lines.
  • Centres of civilizations: Plains are centres of many civilizations.
  • Setting up of cities and towns: Easy means of transportation on land and the growth of agriculture and industries in plains have resulted in the setting up and expansion of cities and towns. The most developed trade centres and ports of the world are found in the plains only and as much as 80% of the worlds population lives here.

Famous Plateaus And Facts

Deoasai Plains, Deosai National Park, Pakistan Tibetan Plateau, central Asia

Auyantepui is a tabletop mountain, a plateau in Venezuela with a summit covering 257 square miles. Some areas of the plateau are inclined, reaching from 5,200 to over 8,000 feet. Auyantepui is the source for Angel Falls, the tallest waterfall in the world at 3,212 feet above its base.

The Columbian Plateau covers portions of Washington, Oregon and Idaho in the Pacific Northwest of the US. With a total of 63,000 square miles, it was formed by many basaltic lava flows on the land over millions of years. The Colorado Plateau includes parts of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah.

It is the largest plateau in the US, covering approximately 130,000 square miles. It was created by a gradual uplift of the land, while the Colorado River cut through the land to form many canyons below. The Deoasai Plains in northern Pakistan is the second highest plateau in the world.

As part of the Deosai National Park, it has an average height of 13,497 ft and covers 1,200 square miles. The Tibetan Plateau is the highest plateau in the world, averaging almost 15,000 feet, and the largest to be found on any continent. It covers an area of almost one million square miles in central Asia, with the Himalayas in a curve along the southern edge and the Kunlun Mountains to the north.

Plateau definition:

An area that is raised above other surrounding lands and is generally flat and level.

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How Are Plateaus Formed

Plateaus can be formed by the erosion of surrounding areas by rivers, flooding and glacier activity. An uplift of land can occur from the pressure of a large magma chamber under layers of rock. Repeated lava flows can also form a plateau over a period of time. The collision of tectonic plates of the Earths crust can elevate a portion of land to create a plateau.

The Power Of Wind And Water


Other plateaus are created over time as wind and rain wear away the side of an uplifted region, giving it geographic distinction from the surrounding terrain. Wind and rain eventually wear plateaus down to mesas and buttes and sculpt odd landforms like the arches and hoodoos found in southern Utah’s famed national parks.

Water is the greatest erosive force on plateaus. As they course along, rivers carve valleys into the rock, washing the sediment toward the sea. Over time, these valleys become giant, majestic chasms like the Grand Canyon, which is continually carved by the Colorado River.

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Tibet During The Last Glacial Period

Today Tibet is the most essential heating surface of the atmosphere. During the Last glacial period a c. 2,400,000 square kilometres ice sheet covered the plateau. This glaciation took place in correspondence to a lowering of the snowline by 1,200 metres . For the Last Glacial Maximum this means a depression of the average annual temperature by 7 to 8;°C at a minor precipitation compared with that one of today.

Owing to this drop in temperature a supposed drier climate has partly been compensated with regard to the glacier feeding by a minor evaporation and an increased relative humidity.Due to its great extension this glaciation in the subtropics was the most important climatically foreign element on earth. With an albedo about 80-90% this ice area of Tibet has reflected an at least 4 times greater global radiation energy per surface into space than the further inland ices at a higher geographical latitude. At that time the most essential heating surface of the atmosphere;;which at present, i.e. interglacially, is the Tibetan plateau;;was the most important cooling surface.

An alternative view held by some scientists is that the glaciers on the Tibetan Plateau have remained restricted over the entire data published since 1974 in the literature referred to in Kuhle , which are relevant as to the maximum ice extent.

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  • We have seen the effects of weathering . Weathering acts upon the earths crust constantly.
  • To a large extent, the process of wearing down depends on the shape and structure of the rocks upon which it acts.
  • So, in some cases, some portions of an elevated area escape from the process of weathering due to the hardness of the materials it is made of.
  • These portions remain unweathered while its surrounding area gets eroded constantly. This results in the formation of Residual or Relict Mountains.
  • Examples: Hills like Nilgiri, Palkonda, Parasnath and Rajmahal and Mountains like the Aravalli, the Vindhya, and the Satpura are some of the examples of Relict Mountains in India.

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Plateau Formation & Types Of Plateaus

  • A plateau is a flat-topped table land.
  • Plateaus occur in every continent and take up a third of the Earths land.
  • They are one of the four major landforms, along with mountains, plains, and hills.
  • Plateaus, like mountains may be young or old. The Deccan plateau in India is one of the oldest plateaus.
  • Valleys form when river water cuts through the plateau. The Columbia Plateau, between the Cascade and Rocky mountains in the northwestern United States, is cut through by the Columbia River.
  • Sometimes, a plateau is so eroded that it is broken up into smaller raised sections called Many outlier plateaus are composed of very old, dense rock formations. Iron ore and coal often are found in plateau outliers.
  • Plateaus are very useful because they are rich in mineral deposits. As a result, many of the mining areas in the world are located in the plateau areas.

What Are The Types Of Plateaus

what is plateau?

The types of plateaus are mentioned below:

Dissected Plateau

Volcanic Plateau

  • Dissected plateau An upward movement in the earths crust forms dissected plateaus. The cause behind the upward movement is the slow collision of the tectonic plates. An example of the dissected plateau is the stable Colorado Plateau or Colorado Plateau Province which is covered with dry grasslands, mountain woodlands, and forests.
  • Volcanic Plateau As the name suggests, the volcanic plateau is the one which is formed by the small volcanic eruptions. The lava flow of these eruptions slowly builds up over time and a plateau hence formed is called a volcanic plateau. An example of such a plateau is North Island Volcanic Plateau or the Waimarino Plateau in New Zealand. Three active peaks of Mount Tongariro, Mount Ngauruhoe, and Mount Ruapehu Volcanic Plateau.
  • Where are Plateaus Located?

    Plateaus can be found in the following areas.

  • Mountainous regions
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    Geological And Geographical Features Of Plateau Landform

    As the plateau landforms are formed like the mountain landforms owing to the volcanic activity, lava extrusions, or erosions due to water and glaciers, these landforms are differentiated and classified into various types depending on the geological and geographical features, surrounding or creating them.

    What Is A Mesa

    A mesa is a plateau that has been carved by erosion into smaller units. Mesas are small, high plateaus with a flat top and steep sides that have been isolated by the widening of canyons. Mesas are more commonly found in the drier southwestern states of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Arizona.

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    The Land And How It Affect Them

    The land consists of mostly tablelands and mountains. There are two major rivers in the plateau area the Fraser River, and the Columbia River. These river supplied the Plateau people with great amounts of salmon which was their major food source. In the past there was a land slide known as “Hell’s Gateslide” that made the Fraser River impassible for Salmon; This landslide had a great impact on the natives. The plateau area had hot dry summers and cold humid winters. Because of the cold winters of this area, the plateau natives would move to their pit houses in the winter because of its ability to retain heat. The plateau area had large amounts of precipitation being located on the windward side of the Rocky Mountains. The land comprised of pine and alder in high elevations and grasslands or sub-arctic forests in low elevations, which supplied the native plateau people with a variety of different food sources.; The plateau area was located between the Plains and the Northwest Coast areas, which granted them the ability to trade with different people from different areas and tribes.

    The Effects Of Climate Change

    Plateau Information and Facts

    The Tibetan Plateau contains the world’s third-largest store of ice. Qin Dahe, the former head of the China Meteorological Administration, said that the recent fast pace of melting and warmer temperatures will be good for agriculture and tourism in the short term; but issued a strong warning:

    “Temperatures are rising four times faster than elsewhere in China, and the Tibetan glaciers are retreating at a higher speed than in any other part of the world.” “In the short term, this will cause lakes to expand and bring floods and mudflows.” “In the long run, the glaciers are vital lifelines for Asian rivers, including the Indus and the Ganges. Once they vanish, water supplies in those regions will be in peril.”

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    Classification Of Plateau Landform Based On Surrounding Environment

    Given below are the classifications of the plateaus based upon the surrounding environment:

    • Intermontane plateaus are the ones that are classified based on the surrounding mountains. The plateaus are the flat-lands with bordering mountains. The Tibetan plateau is one such example.

    • Lava plateau or volcanic plateau is the one surrounded by volcanic activity centres as clear from the definition of lava plateau. The magma comes out of the fixtures and cracks in the crust and leads to lava plateau formation. The Deccan Plateau in India is one such lava plateau. Other such examples, including Antrim plateau in Netherland, Columbia plateau landforms in the United States are examples of the lava plateau.

    • Piedmont plateau landforms are the ones that are surrounded by the mountains on one side and by a plain or a sea on the other. The Piedmont plateau in the Eastern United States falling between the Appalachian Mountains and the Atlantic coastal plain is one such example.;

    • The last one is the continental plateau landforms. These are the ones surrounded by oceans or plains, forming away from the mountains. One such example is the Antarctic Plateau in East Antarctica.

    Definition Of Plateau Landform

    Mentioned above was a brief description of the plateau landform. Based on the given information the plateau landform definition can be stated as follows:

    Plateau: In geology and physical geography, a plateau, also known as a high plain or a flatland, is an area of elevated or raised terrains as compared to all the surrounding sides or at least one side, which are completely almost flat surfaces at the top.;

    A plateau can be surrounded by deep hills on all or at least one side. This is because they are formed because of a number of processes such as volcanic magma, lava extrusions, or erosions due to the water and the glaciers. Usually, the top of the plateaus is a wide flat area of landmass but some of them can be short flatlands as well. Also, depending on their surrounding or neighbouring environment plateau landforms can be classified into intermontane, piedmont or continental. Given below is the picture of plateau landform:

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    Plateau Glaciers In North Norway

    Figure 1 shows the north-facing glaciers from Øksfjordjøkelen, north Norway. Lateral and terminal moraines are found in the valley and the glaciers that formed them have been retreating during the last hundred years. The most recent maximum extent of the glaciers was about 1800-1850 CE , sometimes called ‘The Little Ice Age’ . Although it is not easy to see, the ice comes from an area of about 40km2 with the highest point of the glacier on the plateau at about 1200m above sea level , a km away from the plateau edge. Valley glacier systems below the plateau descend to near sea-level.

    Now compare the size and altitude of the icefield in Fig. 1 with those seen in Fig. 2, about 120km to the southwest in the Lyngen Peninsula. Here, in the background, the highest rock plateau is at about 1800m asl and supports an ice mass some 100m thick and about 2km2. As in Fig 1, outlet glaciers flow to the valley floors 8001000m below. The plateau in the foreground is about 1300m asl but supports only a very thin glacier that is < 0.5km2. Comparisons with photographs taken by climbers in 1898 show that it was once more extensive, but still flat with virtually no outlet glaciers flowing from it off the plateau and towards the valley.

    The Economic Significance Of Plateaus

    Difference Between Plain and Plateau
    • A storehouse of minerals: Most of the minerals in the world are found in plateaus. The extraction of minerals in plateaus is relatively easier on plateaus than mountains. The major portions of industrial raw materials are obtained from plateaus. We get gold from the plateau of Western Australia; copper, diamond and gold from the plateaus of Africa; and coal, iron, manganese and mica from the Chottanagpur Plateau in India.
    • Generation of hydel-power: The edges of plateaus form waterfalls which provide ideal sites for generating hydel power.
    • Cool climate:;The higher parts of the plateaus even in tropical and sub-tropical regions have a cool climate.
    • Animal rearing and agriculture: plateaus have large grassland areas suitable for animal rearing especially sheep, goat, and cattle. The lava plateaus when;compared to other plateaus are richer in minerals and hence used for agriculture as;the soil is very fertile.

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    Geographic Distribution Of The Plateau Landforms

    There are many different types of plateaus found all over the world across all the continents. The plateaus formed owing to the thermal expansion of the lithosphere are associated with the hotspots. Examples include Yellowstone plateau in the USA, the Massif Central in France, Ethiopian Plateau in Africa.;

    The plateaus formed due to the crustal shortening and internal natural drainage lie within major mountain ranges and generally in dry climates. They are usually found in North Africa, Turkey, Iran and Tibet at the points of collision of the African, Arabian, and Indian continental landmasses with the Eurasian continent. The Altiplano is lying between the Cordillera Occidental which is composed of volcanoes and the Cordillera Oriental beneath which the Brazilian shield is being thrust. These areas correspond to the period of Cenozoic time when they underwent crustal shortening. In each of the cases, the surface of the plateau flat-lands includes strongly deformed pre-Cenozoic rocks and the flat-land sediment.;

    Formation From Under The Earth’s Surface

    Many plateaus form as magma deep inside the Earth pushes toward the surface but fails to break through the crust. Instead, the magma lifts up the large, flat, impenetrable rock above it. Geologists believe a cushion of magma may have given the Colorado Plateau its final lift beginning about ten million years ago.

    Repeated lava flows that spill out from cracks in the ground and spread out over hundreds of square miles can also slowly build up massive plateaus. The Columbia Plateau in the U.S. Pacific Northwest and the Deccan Plateau of west-central India were formed by these runny lava flows.

    Plateaus also form in the ocean, such as the Mascarene Plateau in the Indian Ocean, one of the few underwater features clearly visible from space. It extends approximately 770 square miles between the Seychelles and Mauritius Islands.

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    Model Question On Plateaus

    Plateaus are of great economic significance. Comment with reference to India And World.

    • The plateaus are famous for minerals. The plateau of France , the Deccan plateau of India, Katanga plateau of Congo , Western Australian plateau and Brazilian plateau are very good sources of minerals. Iron, copper, gold, diamonds, Manganese, coal, etc., are found in these plateaus.
    • East African plateau is famous for gold and diamond mining.
    • In India huge reserves of iron, coal and manganese are found in the Chotanagpur plateau.
    • In the plateau areas, there may be several waterfalls as the river falls from a great height. In India, the Hundru Falls in the Chotanagpur plateau on the river Subarnarekha and the Jog Falls in Karnataka are examples of such waterfalls. These sites are ideal for hydro-electric power generation. Angel falls in Venezuela is also a waterfall that descends down a plateau.
    • The lava plateaus like Deccan traps are rich in black soil that is fertile and good for cultivation. Example: Maharashtra has good cotton growing soils called regurs.
    • Loess plateau in China has very fertile soils that are good for many kind of crops.
    • Many plateaus have scenic spots and are of great attraction to tourists.

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