A mountain is a landform that is higher than the ground around it. Most mountains are surrounding a flat area of land. Mountains are made from different rocks and from the soil of the Earth.

Mount Ararat, as seen from Armenia

In order for something to be a mountain, it has to be around 600 meters (1,000 feet) or more. If something is less than 600 meters, it is called a hill and not a mountain.


There are many areas that are covered by land. As a matter of fact, ¼ of the whole Earth is covered by land. As we know, not all land is the same. Some of the land is high and some places are very low. Some areas have grass, and some are just dirt. The Earth has different types of lands everywhere.

Mount Wilhelm in Papua New Guinea

All of the different features of land are called landforms. These are areas around us that have weather, weather conditions, natural events such as earthquakes or tsunamis and all different kinds of things that we see every day.

Different kinds of landforms include:

  • Deserts
  • Plains
  • Plateaus
  • Mountains
  • Valleys
  • Hills

What Features Does a Mountain Have?

A mountain has many features such as:

  • Sides that slope down
  • Steep Areas
  • Ridges
  • Peaks

A mountain does not have to have rocks and can just be dirt. A mountain also can have trees but not all mountains do.

Peaks of Mount Kenya

Some mountains have snow on the top or the peak of the mountain.

Other features that most mountains have include:

  • Summit, which is the top of the mountain.
  • A valley that is between the mountains.
  • A slope or the side of the mountains, most of the time more than one of these.

When there is a valley that is located between a mountain, this is called a gorge.

What Causes A Mountain to Form?

There are different reasons that mountains form such as plate tectonics. Most of the great mountain ranges that we see have been formed by plate tectonics that have pushed on each other to form a mountain.

Plate Tectonics

Tectonic plates are found all over the world. These plates are like sheets that sit under the top layer of the Earth. These plates are sitting on top of hot lava or liquid that is moving under the surface of the Earth. As the plates sit on top of the liquid, they move around.

Plate Boundaries

There are three different types of boundaries in which the plates move, and these include convergent boundaries, divergent boundaries and transform boundaries.

Convergent Boundaries

Convergent boundaries are the places where the two plates will push together or move under each other. When the plates move under each other it is called subduction. The movement can be slow and can be where volcanoes and mountains are formed.

Other Ways Mountains Are Formed

There are other ways besides plate tectonics that can cause a mountain to form. If the Earth’s crust collapses or if the Earth below breaks, it can cause there to be parts of the land that push upwards. When this happens, mountains are formed.

Sometimes, mountains are formed when there is pressure under the crust of the Earth and this pressure usually causes cracks and forms things like volcanoes.

Types of Mountains

There are five types of mountains that are the main types of mountains. These include:

  • Plateau Mountains
  • Fault-Block Mountains
  • Dome Mountains
  • Fold Mountains
  • Volcanic Mountains

Plateau Mountains

Plateau Mountains are formed when there is erosion. Since a plateau is a flat piece of land that is usually large, sometimes, it gets pushed up by things that are happening underground such as lava flowing. When this happens, it can cause the area of flat land to go tall.

When the flat land grows tall like a mountain, as years of rain and snow flow through the mountain, it causes there to be a valley between. This is a plateau mountain.

A great example of a plateau mountain is New Zealand mountains.

Fault-Block Mountains

Fault-Block Mountains are mountains that are formed when there are cracks, or faults in the crust of the Earth. When this happens, it causes some rock to move up and some of the rock to move down.

A Fault-Block Mountain breaks into chunks and when the rock moves up and down, they pull apart and the rocks stack on top of each other.

Most fault-block mountains have a front side that is very steep and a back side that is a slope.

Some fault-block mountains include:

  • Harz Mountains
  • Sierra Nevada Mountains

Dome Mountains

A Dome Mountain is a mountain that happens when there is a lot of magma that comes up through the crust of the Earth. When this happens, it does not actually erupt so the magma does not come on the surface, but it pushes the rock on the surface up. This usually causes the land to overlap each other.

After a while, the magma will cool down and it is called a dome because it looks like half of a ball.

When a dome mountain forms, the dome is up but the land around it is still flat.

After a dome mountain is formed, it will face a lot of erosion from rain and snow. This can cause the dome to be worn away and cause the dome to form a circle around it.

Fold Mountains

A Fold Mountain is a mountain that is the most common mountain that we see. These are mountains that fold over millions of years of time.

When there are two plates from tectonic plates that hit into each other, one side will crumble, and the other side will push up.

When the fold pushes up, it is called an anticline. When the fold pushes down, it is called a syncline.

Some great examples of fold mountains include:

  • Andes Mountains
  • Southern Alps
  • Himalayan Mountains
  • Alps
  • Andes
  • Rockies
  • Urals

Where the tectonic plates meet in the Southern Alps, this is called the fault line.

Volcanic Mountains

Volcanic mountains are made by volcanoes when magma rock erupts over and over and piles more and more rocks on the land. When the magma pushes through the Earth, ash and lava fill the ground and the ash and lava eventually cool off. When this happens, it makes layers on top of layers and forms volcanic mountains.

Some volcanic mountains include:

  • Mount St. Helen
  • Mount Pinatubo
  • Mount Kea
  • Mount Loa

Mountain Range

A mountain range is a chain of mountains that have more than one mountain. A mountain range has to be around 1,000 or more miles long in order to be considered a range.

Mountain System

A mountain system is when there is a group of mountain ranges. A great example is that the mountain system that is located in the United States is the Rockies mountain system and the Appalachian mountain system.

Features of a Mountain

There are many different features of a mountain including:

  • Slope-The side of a mountains. A mountain can have more than one slope.
  • Arete-the part of the mountain that is formed from erosion. This happens when a narrow ridge is formed by glaciers on each opposite side of the same mountain.
  • Ridge-This is the top of the mountain or the top of a series of mountains. It is usually long and narrow.
  • Cirque-The cirque is when there is a bowl shape hole at the bottom of a mountain that is made by a glacier.
  • Peak-The highest part of a mountain is the peak.
  • Crag-When rocks look like they grow from the sides of the mountain, this can be a cliff or a rock face.
  • Pass-A pass is when there is a valley between two mountains.
  • Face-The face of the mountain is the steep side of the mountain.
  • Moraine-This is when there are rocks left on the mountain by glacier dirt.
  • Mountain Glacier-This is a type of mountain that is formed when snow and ice stack on top of each other.
  • Horn-A horn is when there is a sharp peak that happened because of erosion and because of glaciers.
  • Leeward Side-This is the side of the mountain that is protected from things like wind and rain.
  • Windward Sie-The side of the mountain that is opposite of the Leeward Side and gets a lot of rain and wind.


The study of mountains is called orology. A person that studies mountains is called an orologist.


A mountain can have many different biomes on it including:

  • Deserts
  • Grassland
  • Tundra
  • Forest
  • Taiga Forest
  • Temperate Forest

More Facts About Mountains:

  • More than ½ of the fresh water in the world comes from mountains.
  • Hawaii is the top of a volcanic mountain.
  • More than half of Hawaii is under the water.
  • The largest mountain range is found in the Atlantic Ocean.
  • A mountain is defined as, “higher and steeper than a hill.”
  • Mountains are used in wartimes for people to hide.
  • Most mountain ranges are more than millions of years old.
  • The world’s tallest mountain is Mount Everest.
  • Mountains give shelter to people, animals and plants.
  • There are mountain ranges that form in oceans.
  • When a mountain is more than 26,000 feet it is called a “death zone” because there is not enough oxygen for people to live there.

What Did You Learn?

  • What is a mountain?
    A mountain is an area of land that is higher than 1,000 feet above the land.
  • Are there different kinds of mountains?
    Yes, there are different kinds of mountains. Some are volcanic mountains, fault-block mountains, fold mountains, plateau mountains, dome mountains.
  • What is a summit?
    The summit of a mountains is the very top peak of the mountain.
  • What are some reasons mountains are formed?
    Mountains can form when volcanoes erupt or when tectonic plates hit against each other. When lava is flowing under the ground and pushes the plates up, this can also form a mountain.
  • What is the different between a hill and a mountain?
    A hill is less than 1,000 feet high and a mountain is over 1,000 feet high.