University of Colorado GEOLOGY 1010

Class Note 16

Landscape Evolution


Topographic maps show elevation and topography (the land surface shape by use of contours (lines of equal elevation). The relief is the difference between the maximum and minimum elevations in an area.

The study of landforms and landscape evolution is called geomorphology. The shapes of various landforms are the result of tectonic uplift and differential erosion of various rock types.

A mountain is a large mass of rock that projects above surrounding terrain. Mountains usually occur in ranges, commonly linear areas of uplift scupted by erosion.

A plateau is a broad area of uplift with relatively little internal relief.

A mesa is a small plateau bounded by cliffs, commonly in an area of flat-lying sedimentary rocks.

A cuesta is an asymmetric ridge in dipping sedimentary rocks as the Flat-irons.

A hogback is ridge formed by near-vertical, resistant sedimentary rock.

Badlands are areas of deeply gullied topography unsuitable for agriculture.

A basin is a low-lying area of low relief. In arid areas basins commonly have closed topography (no river outlet to the sea).


GEOL 1010 Syllabus

Class Note 17

Class Note 15

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