• landform
    These striking landforms, called buttes, are created by erosion.

    Photograph by Anthony Boyer, MyShot

    And It's Getting Deeper
    At the Grand Canyons deepest point, it is over a mile (1.83 kilometers) from its top to its floor.

    A landform is a feature on the Earth's surface that is part of the terrain. Mountains, hills, plateaus, and plains are the four major types of landforms. Minor landforms include buttes, canyons, valleys, and basins.

    Tectonic plate movement under the Earth can create landforms by pushing up mountains and hills. Erosion by water and wind can wear down land and create landforms like valleys and canyons. Both processes happen over a long period of time, sometimes millions of years.

    It took 6 million years, in fact, for the Colorado River to carve out the Grand Canyon in the U.S. state of Arizona. The Grand Canyon is 446 kilometers (277 miles) long.

    The highest landform on Earth is a mountain: Mount Everest in Nepal. It measures 8,850 meters (29,035 feet) above sea level. It is part of the Himalaya range that runs across several countries in Asia.

    Landforms can exist under water in the form of mountain ranges and basins under the sea. The Mariana Trench, the deepest landform on Earth, is in the South Pacific Ocean.

  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    basin Noun

    a dip or depression in the surface of the land or ocean floor.

    Encyclopedic Entry: basin
    butte Noun

    single hill or rock formation that rises sharply from a flat landscape, usually in a desert.

    Encyclopedic Entry: butte
    canyon Noun

    deep, narrow valley with steep sides.

    Encyclopedic Entry: canyon
    Earth Noun

    our planet, the third from the Sun. The Earth is the only place in the known universe that supports life.

    Encyclopedic Entry: Earth
    erosion Noun

    act in which earth is worn away, often by water, wind, or ice.

    Encyclopedic Entry: erosion
    Grand Canyon Noun

    large gorge made by the Colorado River in the U.S. state of Arizona.

    hill Noun

    land that rises above its surroundings and has a rounded summit, usually less than 300 meters (1,000 feet).

    Encyclopedic Entry: hill
    Himalaya Mountains Noun

    mountain range between India and Nepal.

    landform Noun

    specific natural feature on the Earth's surface.

    Encyclopedic Entry: landform
    Mariana Trench Noun

    deepest place on Earth, located in the South Pacific Ocean at 11,000 meters (36,198 feet) at its deepest.

    mountain Noun

    landmass that forms as tectonic plates interact with each other.

    mountain range Noun

    series or chain of mountains that are close together.

    Mount Everest Noun

    highest spot on Earth, 8,850 meters (29,035 feet). Mount Everest is part of the Himalaya range, in Nepal and China.

    plain Noun

    flat, smooth area at a low elevation.

    Encyclopedic Entry: plain
    plateau Noun

    large region that is higher than the surrounding area and relatively flat.

    Encyclopedic Entry: plateau
    sea level Noun

    base level for measuring elevations. Sea level is determined by measurements taken over a 19-year cycle.

    Encyclopedic Entry: sea level
    tectonic plate Noun

    large, moveable segment of the Earth's crust.

    terrain Noun

    topographic features of an area.

    valley Noun

    depression in the Earth between hills.

    wind Noun

    movement of air (from a high pressure zone to a low pressure zone) caused by the uneven heating of the Earth by the sun.

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