What are the 5 Types of Landforms?

There are five major types of landforms — mountains, plateaus, plains, valleys, and basins.

Types of Landforms #1

Fold Mountains

  • Fold mountains are caused by large-scale movements taking place inside the Earth’s crust. These movements are caused by various factors such as the movements in the mantle and the expansion and contraction of some parts of the Earth. These are horizontal movements.
  • Fold mountains are formed when two tectonic plates move towards each other leading to the folding of the layers of the Earth. The up folds are called anticlines and the down folds are called synclines.
  • Examples: the Himalayas in Asia, the Andes in South America, the Alps in Europe

Chief characteristics of fold mountains

  • Fold mountains are some of the youngest mountains of the Earth.
  • Most of the fold mountains are formed of sedimentary rocks. These sedimentary rocks were formed because of the deposition and collection of sediments in shallow oceans such as the Tethys (a hollow depression from where the Himalayas have emerged).
  • Fold mountains are greater in length but comparatively smaller in width.
  • Fold mountains are associated with volcanic activities as they have many active volcanoes.
  • Many islands existing on the surface of the Earth such as the West Indies are the top surface of many fold mountains which exist under the seas.

Block Mountains

  • Block mountains are formed because of faulting. Block mountains are formed when two tectonic plates move away from each other causing cracks on the surface of the Earth.
  • When parallel cracks or faults occur, the strip of land or the block of land between them may be raised resulting in the formation of block mountains. The upward block is called a horst. Examples: Black forest and Vosges of Rhineland
  • Block mountains are also formed when the crust of the Earth sinks on both sides of the two parallel faults. Therefore, a block mountain can be found between the two rift valleys. The land which sinks is known as graben. Example: East African rift valleys

Volcanic Mountains

  • Volcanic mountains are formed by volcanic eruptions. It occurs when molten rock or magma under the surface of the Earth erupts.
  • Magma which flows out on the Earth’s surface is called lava. The accumulation of lava and its subsequent cooling results in the building of a volcanic mountain.
  • Examples: Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa, Mount Fiji in Japan

Types of Landforms #2


Intermontane plateaus: Plateaus that are surrounded by hills and mountains from all sides are known as intermontane plateaus. Examples: Tibetan Plateau (highest plateau in the world), Columbian Plateau

Piedmont Plateau:
These plateaus are surrounded by mountain ranges on one side and plains on the other side. These are also called residual plateaus. Examples: Patagonian Plateau, Appalachian Plateau

Volcanic Plateau:
These are formed as a result of the flow of lava from volcanoes. Examples: Deccan Plateau, Ethiopian Plateau.

Uplifted Plateau:
During the volcanic activity, when the middle portion of the landmass gets elevated and has rounded sides, it is called an uplifted plateau. Examples: Chotanagpur Plateau, Ozark Plateau in the USA

Types of Landforms #3


Structural Plains:
Plains that are formed because of the upliftment and submergence of lands are known as structural plains. Examples: Great Plains of USA, Coromandel Plains in India Formation of block mountains.

Erosional Plains:
These plains are formed by the agents of erosion. They may be formed when hills are eroded and worn down. These are known as peneplains. Example: Niagara Plain in USA Many plains are also formed because of erosional activities of winds and glaciers.

Depositional Plains:
Plains formed because of the depositional activities of rivers and winds are known as depositional plains. The Great Indian Plains and the Mississippi Plains in the USA have been formed by the depositional activities of the Ganga and Mississippi rivers, respectively. Plains such as the Thar Desert and the Sahara Desert have been formed by the deposition of wind. Many plains are also formed because of marine deposition. Example: East coast of India

Types of Landforms #4

Valleys and Basins

Valleys are formed because of both tectonic and erosional forces. The Rift Valley of East Africa has been formed by tectonic forces, while the Ganga Brahmaputra Valley is an example of a valley formed by erosional forces. A basin is formed because of the depositional activities of a river.

Also, Read Landforms of the Earth