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WHAT ARE

LANDFORMS?
Think about the shape of the land where you live. Is it flat or rolling? Are
there valleys or mountains? Often, we overlook the landforms that are
around us. Landforms are the natural features that make up Earth’s surface. landforms  the natural
Even if we don’t notice them, they are important. They affect us whether we features that make up
Earth’s surface
know it or not.
Sometimes disasters in the news remind us of how landforms affect
people. Earthquakes are deadly events that are linked to landforms. An
earthquake is the shaking of Earth’s surface due to changes taking place earthquake  release of
beneath it. Earthquakes can trigger landslides, like the one shown in energy through Earth’s crust
due to changes taking place
Figure 1.1, mudslides, and tsunamis. beneath it

FIGURE 1.1 A landslide caused by an earthquake I wonder if landslides happen in some places more than others?

18 UNIT 1: Physical Patterns in a Changing World NEL


LANDFORMS AND DAILY LIFE
In the past, especially, the landforms in a region affected people’s way of
life. They influenced the kind of food that was available and how people
obtained it. Landforms affected how people travelled and the kinds of
structures they built for shelter.
Today, landforms continue to affect the size and layout of our buildings
and communities. The forces that created shields and mountains also
helped to create the deposits of minerals that we now depend on, for
example, gold, nickel, and iron ore. Figure 1.2 shows the major landforms
shield  the base rock of an around the world. A shield is the flat, rocky base created when an ancient
ancient mountain region that mountain region has been worn away. Mountains are areas of land that rise
has been worn away, leaving
a flat, rocky landform region high above the surrounding land. Movements under Earth’s surface create
high, flat plateaus.
plateau a high, flat region Plains are generally flat to gently rolling stretches of land. Valleys are
that has been lifted up by
movement of Earth’s surface depressions in the land created by running water, moving ice, or the
movement of land. We use these fertile regions to grow food. We enjoy using
plain  a large, flat to gently
rolling region the features of different landforms for recreational activities, such as skiing
and camping.
The land supports us and provides the resources that we need. But the
land is always changing. Most of the changes are taking place over millions
of years and are too slow for people to notice in one lifetime. But sometimes
the changes are sudden and severe. They may cause great damage or even
loss of life.

Major Landform Regions around the World


150˚ W 120˚ W 90˚ W 60˚ W 30˚ W 150˚EW60˚
0˚ 30˚ 120˚
E W90˚
90˚
E W 60˚
120˚ E W150˚
30˚
E W 0˚ 30˚ E 60˚ E 90˚ E 120˚ E 150˚ E
ARCTIC OCEAN ARCTIC OCEAN

Arctic Circle Arctic Circle

60˚N 60˚N 60˚N


EUROPE EUROPE
NORTH NORTH
AMERICA AMERICA ASIA ASIA

30˚ N 30˚ N 30˚N


Tropic of Cancer ATLANTIC
Tropic of Cancer ATLANTIC PACIFIC
OCEAN OCEAN OCEAN
AFRICA AFRICA
Equator PACIFIC Equator PACIFIC
0˚ 0˚ 0˚
OCEAN OCEAN INDIAN
SOUTH SOUTH INDIAN
AMERICA AMERICA OCEAN OCEAN
Tropic of Capricorn Tropic of Capricorn
AUSTRALIA
30˚ S 30˚ S 30˚ S
N N

0 2000 km 0 2000
60˚ S 60˚ S 60˚S
Antarctic Circle Antarctic Circle

ANTARCTICA ANTARCTICA
150˚ W 120˚ W 90˚ W 60˚ W 30˚ W 0˚ 150˚EW60˚
30˚ 120˚
E W90˚
90˚
E W 60˚
120˚ E W150˚
30˚
EW 0˚ 30˚ E 60˚ E 90˚ E 120˚ E 150˚ E

FIGURE 1.2 This map shows the major landform regions


Landform Regionsin the Landform Regions
world. Because valleys occur in all the other mountains
types of landforms,
plains plateaus mountains
shields plains plateaus shields
they are not shown separately on this map.

NEL CHAPTER 1: Landform Patterns 19


A

LANDFORM TYPES
The large landforms that make up most of Earth’s surface
are mountains (including fold and volcanic), plateaus,
plains, shields, and valleys. Locate each of these examples
of a landform region (Figure 1.3) on the map on page 19
(Figure 1.2). What patterns can you see? These patterns can
give us clues about how landforms were created, how they
are changing, and how they might affect humans.

What connection can I find between different landform


types and their locations on Earth?

FIGURE 1.3 (A) plain, Australia; (B) volcanic mountain, Japan, Asia;
(C) valley, Italy, Europe; (D) fold mountain, Nepal, Asia; (E) shield,
Canada, North America; (F) plateau, United States, North America

20 UNIT 1: Physical Patterns in a Changing World NEL


B

E F

NEL CHAPTER 1: Landform Patterns 21


READING
ELEVATION ON MAPS
Maps have only two dimensions: length and width. Map-makers use colours
and contour lines to show the height of landforms. Contour lines are lines
on a map used to join places of equal height above sea level, the average
level of the ocean’s surface. They show the difference between the highest
and lowest areas.

USING CONTOUR LINES TO SHOW ELEVATION


Elevation is the height of a location or object above sea level. Topographic
maps use contour lines to show elevation (Figure 1.4 and Figure 1.5). They
show the surface features of an area in great detail. For example, these
maps can show waterways, populated areas, and place names. Topographic
maps use symbols and colours to represent characteristics of the area,
such as roads and forests.
Any place along a contour line is at the elevation represented by that
line. Any place not on the line is either higher or lower than that elevation.
Index contour lines are contour lines with numbers that indicate the height
above sea level. You can use them to figure out the elevation of the other
contour lines.
Map-makers decide on a contour interval for their maps and then draw
FIGURE 1.5 Topographic map
lines at these intervals. A contour interval is the difference in elevation representing an area near
between two consecutive lines. For example, if the contour interval is 5 m, Lake Louise, Alberta
they draw a contour line at 5 m above sea level and at
each increase or decrease of 5 m. On a contour map, Lake Louise, Alberta
lines close together show a steep slope while lines far
0m

0m
00m

m
apart indicate a gentle slope.

0m
Temple 2302000mm 0m
MountTemple 204

2 200
24040 0 m

0m
26 0 0

Mount 24

2 20
2

26 0 0 m

200
0m

200
3
0m

3000
30
m

28 0 0
28 0 0 m

2 0
24 4 26 0 0 m
0m

0 00 m 26 0 0 m
0m
m

m
2 80

30 0 m
30 00
280

0m
Pinnacle
Pinnacle
FIGURE 1.4 Contour map of a hill Mountain
Mountain
2800m
150 2800m
80
0m
26 0 20 0m
26 00 28
0 mm m
100 Contour Lines 26
00
206 0
m
0m0m
2040
m

24
0
00m
202

50
22

0m
00m
200
20

0
23 60 m
23 60 m
NN
0m
00m

2240m
index contour line 2240m Moraine
220 0m 0200

Moraine
0m

Lake
2

Lake
220 0m

2400
24 0

contour line

150 00 500mm
500
10 0

glacier
glacier road
road picnicarea
picnic area icecap
ice cap
50
forest
forest trail
trail stream
stream
0

22 UNIT 1: Physical Patterns in a Changing World NEL


USING COLOURS TO SHOW ELEVATION
Some maps use colour to show elevation (Figure 1.6). Different colours
show different categories of height, such as 0 to 100 m, 100 to 200 m,
and so on. Often, dark green shows the lowest land elevations, and light
green or brown shows the higher elevations.
Colours on maps mean different things depending on the kind of map. For
example, look at Figure 3.23 in Chapter 3. It is a map that shows the change
in the size of a forest over time. The forests are shown in two different
colours of green. However, the green colour on an elevation map only shows
a level of elevation. It does
not describe the type of Elevation Map of Thailand
vegetation. For example,

NA
on some elevation maps N
BURMA LAOS

HI
much of the Sahara Desert
(MYANMAR)

C
is shown in green. This is
because the land is at low
South
elevations, not because the
China Sea
area is fertile.
THAILAND

INDIAN OCEAN
Bangkok

CAMBODIA
Elevation
3000 m VIETNAM
1500
600
Gulf of
300
Thailand
150
0
FIGURE 1.6 This map of Thailand 0 150 km
uses colour to show elevation.

HOW TO READ
ELEVATION ON A MAP

Look at the topographic map in Figure 1.5. What


is the contour interval for this map? Why are some STEP 1
contour lines on the map thicker than others?

STEP 2 Are the slopes of the land steep or gentle? Do they


change? How can you tell? Describe the shape.

Geography 7 SB
What other symbols can you see on the map?
0-17-659048-X STEP 3
What are some human activities in this area?
FN C01-F02-G07SB Suppose you were standing on the shore of
CO Crowle Art Group STEP 4 Moraine Lake talking to a friend on your cellphone.
Describe the scenery all around you to your friend.
Pass 4th pass
Approved
NEL Not Approved CHAPTER 1: Landform Patterns 23
MOUNTAINS
There are mountains on every continent on Earth. There are several types
of mountains, (you can see examples of volcanic and fold mountains in
volcano  an opening in Earth’s Figure 1.3B and Figure 1.3D) but they are all formed by huge movements in
crust from which molten rock
or magma escapes to reach Earth’s crust. The crust is the top layer of rock on the surface of Earth. Fold
the surface mountains are the most common type of mountain (Figure 1.7). They are
magma  extremely hot fluid
created by powerful forces folding and buckling the rock layers of Earth’s
or semi-fluid material under surface.
Earth’s crust Volcanic mountains are created by volcanic eruptions. A volcano is a
lava  molten rock flowing mountainous landform through which fluid and semi-fluid material from
from a volcano far beneath Earth’s surface escapes. This material is called magma. When
it reaches Earth’s surface, it is called lava. Sometimes it piles up in layers.
FIGURE 1.7 A fold mountain When it cools, it becomes a mountain. Sometimes, a mixture of rock and
I wonder why these mountains ash spews from the mouth of a volcano. If it builds up and hardens in the
look the way they do? shape of a cone around the volcano’s mouth, it creates a mountain.

24 UNIT 1: Physical Patterns in a Changing World NEL


SHIELDS
Shields are areas of very old rock that make up the continents. They were
formed from ancient mountain regions that have been worn down over
millions of years. Shields exist on every continent in the world.
The Canadian Shield (Figure 1.3E) is the largest landform in Canada.
Sometimes the rock of shields is exposed. Sometimes it is covered by
vegetation.

VALLEYS
A valley is an area of low land between areas of higher land. Valleys often
have a river or stream flowing through them in the direction of the slope.
They are created in several ways.
A V-shaped valley is created when rivers and streams run over the surface
of the land and carry away materials. A U-shaped valley is created when
ice moves over the rock or land and carries away materials. Sometimes
forces within Earth move layers of rock, forming cracks. The land that falls
between the cracks can become a rift valley.

PLAINS
There are plains on every continent. Plains are usually at low elevations.
Some were formed at the bottom of what were once seas. As you can see
by looking at Figure 1.3A, they are generally quite flat. However, plains can
also have areas of gently rolling hills. Plains are well suited to agriculture and
farming, such as the Interior Plains of Canada.

PLATEAUS
Plateaus are large areas of mainly flat land found at high elevations
(Figure 1.3F). While both plains and plateaus are quite flat, plateaus occur
at higher elevations than plains. Plateaus are found in mountainous regions,
sometimes between two mountains. Plateaus are created by movements
under Earth’s surface that lift the land. Another name for plateaus
is tablelands.

CHECK-IN
1. SPATIAL SIGNIFICANCE Sketch each of the five major 3. INTERRELATIONSHIPS Think of the ways that the
landform types. Add labels to identify what you landforms near your home affect you and your
consider to be the characteristics of each landform activities in the community. Explain your ideas
type. Be prepared to defend your choices. in a labelled diagram, a paragraph, podcast, or
2. PATTERNS AND TRENDS Work with a partner. Review a photo essay.
Figure 1.2 on page 19. Discuss the patterns in the
locations of each landform type. Also identify
the reasons why it might be useful to know the
patterns of landforms in the world.

NEL CHAPTER 1: Landform Patterns 25