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14.3. Factors that condition the modeling of the relief

Climate influence on the relief (climatic geomorphology)

The climate is fundamental in the type of landscape of a certain area, especially in young reliefs.

Depending on the climate, the rocks are altered in another way and leave a characteristic landscape. For example, granite will behave differently in a cold climate (angular blocks due to gelling) than in a temperate and humid climate (its minerals are altered by chemical weathering).

The fluvial modelingtorrential, glacier, or wind, for example, are very much conditioned by the weather.

Influence of the type of rock in the relief (lithological geomorphology)

Although the behavior of each type of rock depends fundamentally on the climate, the characteristics of each rock can generate different types of reliefs.

The clastic sedimentary rocks soft and friable (loamsclayssands) will be affected, in conditions arid for gullies and ravines (lands bad). If the terrain is heterogeneous, they can leave structures like fairy chimneys.

Chimeneas de hadas en el Parque Nacional del Cañón Bryce, Utah.

I, Luca Galuzzi [CC BY-SA 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

If rocks are hard, cold weather affects them gelifractión, leaving steep escarpments forms, whereas if it is a humid climate, with high chemical weathering appear soft shapes (sugar loaf).

The soluble sedimentary rocks (limestonegypsum, salts,...) generate karst modeling, by dissolution and precipitation of salts forming endokarstic and exokarstic forms, both erosion as deposit.

The metamorphic rocksplutonic and volcanic, consisting mainly of silicates, are affected by chemical weathering, especially in humid climates. In other climates, gellingjointing, etc., are more characteristic.

Answer in your notebook

14.6.- Explain with drawings how fairy chimneys are formed.

Influence of rock structures on relief (structural geomorphology)

The geological structure  of the rocks in a region, depending on how the rocks are arranged, can determine one landscape or another.

If the rocks are arranged in horizontal strata it can generate a plateau relief, and as it erodes, leave witness hills.

If the strata dip gently in one direction, a sloping relief appears, with small elevations on the ground, elongated according to a more resistant layer that is on top of other softer ones.

If the strata are folded, you can also determine the relief, since although initially the anticlines can be related to the hills and the synclines  to the valleys, the erosion can transform into an inverted relief.

The folding can become such that the layers remain vertical, which can become vertical walls if adjacent materials are eroded.

If the area has faults, you can determine the course of rivers and geomorphology of the area.

Estratos verticales en Aliaga (Teruel)

Vertical strata in the Aliaga Geological Park (Teruel).


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Biology and Geology teaching materials for Compulsory Secondary Education (ESO) and Baccalaureate students.