Mountain building and geologic structures
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Mountain Building and Geologic Structures. Can you name these mountains?. Caledonians. Urals. Appalachians. Alps. Rocky Mountains. Himalayas. Andes Urals Appalachians Caledonians Great Dividing Range Himalayas Alps Rockies. Andes. Great Dividing Range.

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Mountain building and geologic structures l.jpg
Mountain Building and Geologic Structures

Can you name these mountains l.jpg
Can you name these mountains?





Rocky Mountains


  • Andes Urals Appalachians Caledonians

  • Great Dividing Range Himalayas Alps Rockies


Great Dividing Range

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Mountain Building (Orogenesis) Processes

What Processes Build Mountains?

  • Volcanic Activity

  • Tectonic Activity

    • Folding – bending of rock

    • Faulting – breaking of rock

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What Type of Igneous Structure?

  • Granitic Batholith – Sierra Nevada

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Mountain Building

  • Mountain building processes thicken the crust

  • Mountains can be twice as thick as the average continental crust (70 K versus 35 K)

  • Mountains have deep roots

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Isostasy and Isostatic Adjustment

  • Erosion removes weight

  • Crust rises

  • Eventually uniform thickness

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How Do Rocks React to Stress?

  • Compression

    • Crumpling

  • Tension

    • Stretching

  • Shear Stress

    • Grind past

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Rock Deformation

  • Rocks deform under stress

    • Temporarily

      • elastic deformation

    • Permanently

      • Plastic deformation - folds

      • Brittle deformation - faults

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Compression causes:

Fold mountains and thrust faults

Crustal shortening

Thicker Crust in mountains

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Topography Does Not Always Reflect Structure




  • Some anticlines form valleys

  • Some synclines form ridges

    Rock hardness determines the topography

  • Hard rock forms ridges, soft rock forms valleys

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Most Major Mountain Belts Include Fold Mountains

  • Compression crumples sediments when plates converge

  • Alpine structure includes complex folds and thrust faults

European Alps

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What is a Fault?

  • Faults are fractures in the earth’s crust along which movement has taken place

  • Joints are fractures that have not moved

  • Faults can be a few feet or hundreds of miles long

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What stress produced these faults?




Shear stress

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Normal and Reverse Faults

  • What is normal about a normal fault?

  • What is reversed about a reverse fault?

  • In a NORMAL fault, the upper block (hanging wall) drops under the influence of gravity

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What Kind of Fault?

  • A Reverse fault

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What Kind of a Fault?

  • Normal Fault

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What Kind of a Fault?

  • Strike-slip fault

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Can Tension and Normal Faults Produce Mountains?

  • Fault-Block Mountains

  • Great Basin or Basin and Range

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Great Basin

  • After subduction of Farallon Plate

  • North America moved over a rift zone

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Basin and Range

  • Crustal stretching cause some tilted blocks to slump and forms basins

  • A block surrounded by parallel faults may drop to form a graben

  • The remaining blocks form horst block mountains

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What is the relationship between mountains and plate tectonics?

Some mountains are volcanic (igneous) mountains

  • Convergent Plate Boundaries

    • Cascade Volcanic Mountains

    • Sierra Nevada Granitic Batholith

  • Divergent Plate Boundaries

    • Kilimanjaro in East Africa

    • Mount Hekla in Iceland

  • Hot Spots

    • Mauna Loa in Hawaii

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What is the relationship between mountains and plate tectonics?

  • Many mountains coincide with currently active convergent plate boundaries

    • Andes

    • Himalayas

    • Alps

  • Most of these mountains are complex involving folding, faulting, and volcanism

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What is the relationship between mountains and plate tectonics?

  • Some mountains coincide with OLD plate boundaries

    • Ural Mountains in Russia

    • Appalachians in Eastern United States

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Evolution of the Appalachians tectonics?

  • 600 million years ago

  • Passive margin

  • 500 million years ago

  • Ocean-Continent Convergent Boundary

  • Subduction zone volcanism

  • 350-400 million years

  • Newfoundland-Caledonian collision

  • Africa approaches

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Evolution of the Appalachians tectonics?

  • 250 million years ago

  • Continent-Continent America-Africa

  • Appalachians fold and fault

  • 200 million years ago

  • Divergent rift zone

  • Today

  • Part of Africa left behind

  • Passive margin

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Identify These Geomorphic Regions tectonics?

Modoc Plateau

Klamath Mountains

Cascade Ranges

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What Kind of Mountain? tectonics?

Composite Cone – Mount Shasta

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What Region? tectonics?

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How Did the Coast Range Form? tectonics?

Slices of sea floor, folded sediments, island arcs, and terranes from other places accreted to the Coast Range

Complex Mountains

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Terrane Map tectonics?

Aleutian Trench, Alaska

why Alaska gets such big


Ultimate destination of LA

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Terrane Formation tectonics?

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Alaska tectonics?

State made entirely of accreted terranes

sutures, faulting between them

steep topography


20,320 Mt. McKinley

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Bay Area Terranes tectonics?

Franciscan Group

Marin Headlands

Nicasio Reservoir



Yolla Bolly

Novato Quarry

Yerba Buena



Red Rock? Angel Island?

each of these bounded by faults

much more than just San Andreas and Hayward

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What Kind of Fault? tectonics?

Transform Fault


Horizontal movement

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What Region? tectonics?

Flood Basalts

What structure?

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Identify This Geomorphic Region tectonics?

Central Valley

A sediment-filled basin

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What Region? tectonics?

Transverse Ranges – Complex Mountains

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What Region? tectonics?

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Identify The Structure in this Geomorphic Region tectonics?

Peninsular Ranges

A Granitic Batholith

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What Region? tectonics?

Salton Trough

A Graben

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What Region? tectonics?

What Structure?

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What Region? tectonics?

Klamath Mountains

Complex Mountains

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Klamath Terranes tectonics?

this map shows 10

distinct terranes

and many sub-terranes

how do you divide them?


depends on purpose

how small is too small to

call a terrane?

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  • A – Klamath Mountains tectonics?

    • Complex Mountains

  • B – Coast Ranges

    • Complex Mountains

  • C – Cascade Ranges

    • Composite Volcanoes

  • D – Modoc Plateau

    • Flood Basalts

  • E – Sierra Nevada

    • Granitic Batholith

  • F – Central Valley

    • Sediment filled basin

  • G – H Great Basin

    • Fault Block Mountains

  • I - Transverse Range

    • Complex Mountains

  • J – Peninsula Ranges

    • Granitic batholiths

  • K – Salton Trough

    • Graben

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What Structure Dominates Nevada? tectonics?

The Great Basin

Basin and Ranges