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Facts about Plateaus for Kids

Plateaus can be formed by a number of processes, including upwelling of volcanic magma, extrusion of lava, and erosion by water and glaciers. Plateaus can also be built up by lava spreading outward from cracks and weak areas in the crust. Plateaus can also be formed by the erosional processes of glaciers on mountain ranges, leaving them sitting between the mountain ranges.

  • Intermontane plateaus are the highest in the world, bordered by mountains.
  • Piedmont plateaus are bordered on one side by mountains and on the other by a plain or sea.
  • Dissected plateaus are highly eroded plateaus cut by rivers and broken by deep narrow valleys.
  • The largest and highest plateau in the world is the Tibetan Plateau, called the “roof of the world”, which is still being formed by the collisions of the Indo-Australian and Eurasian tectonic plates.
  • In that region of Antarctica, there are no known mountains, but rather 3000 meters or more of ice – which very slowly spreads toward the coastline via enormous glaciers.
  • This ice cap is so massive that echolocation sound measurements of the thickness of the ice have shown that large parts of the “dry land” surface of Antarctica have been pressed below sea level.
  • On the other hand – more realistically – were the icecap to gradually melt away, the surface of the land beneath it would gradually rebound away from the center of the Earth, and that land would ultimately rise above sea level.
  • The third-largest plateau in the world is probably the one in South America that lies in the middle of the Andes Mountains.
  • In North America, the largest plateau is the Colorado Plateau covering an area of about 337,000 130,000 sq mi in ColoradoUtahArizona and New Mexico.
  • The Colorado Plateau in northern Arizona and southern Utah is bisected by the valley of the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon.
  • How this came to be is that over 10 million years ago, a river was already there, though not necessarily on exactly the same course.
  • An unusual balance occurred: the river that would become the Colorado River was able to erode into the crust of the Earth at a nearly equal rate to the uplift of the plateau.
  • Now, millions of years later, the South Rim of the Grand Canyon is at an elevation of about 9800 ft above sea level, and the Norrth Rim of the Grand Canyon is about 8200 ft above sea level.
  • The southern edge of the plateau in northern Arizona is called the Mogollon Rim, where the elevation of the land declines steeply into central Arizona.