How Gorges Are Formed

Flowing rivers are the main feature of most gorges.
••• luq1/iStock/Getty Images

A gorge is a steep-sided, narrow valley with a river or stream running along the bottom. Gorges are formed by the interplay of several geological processes, including erosion, tectonic processes such as vertical uplift and cavern collapse. Erosion by the resident body of water is usually the primary contributor to gorge formation.

A River Cuts Through It

Rivers carve gorges as they pass over the land by carrying rocks and soil away. The continuous flow of water and abrasion by debris in the water eventually cuts a deep trench through the landscape that exposes many layers of rock. Glaciers can also dig gorges into the land as they advance and retreat. These glacial gorges fill with water and become rivers, which in turn remove more rock and soil to form even deeper gorges.

Land Motion

Gorge formation is accelerated by certain geological processes. Vertical uplift is when the edges of tectonic plates rise as they crash into one another to form steep, rocky features, such as mountains and gorges. When the roofs of underground caverns collapse, they can also form or deepen a gorge.

Related Articles

Are Weathering & Erosion Harmful?
What Are the 4 Main Types of Landforms?
What Are the Characteristics of Floods?
What Are Four Major Landforms?
How Are River Rocks Formed?
What Are Some of the Forces That Change Landforms?
What Is a Delta Land Form?
How Do Glaciers Change the Landscape?
What Is a Gorge in Geography?
Landforms of the Wetlands
Landforms in Freshwater Areas
Types of Depositional Landforms
Forces That Cause Landforms
About Minor & Major Landforms
Landforms of the Tundra
What Causes Geologic Tilting?
What Factors Cause Mechanical Weathering?
How Does Gravity Cause Erosion?
How the Great Plains Were Formed
What Are the Most Common Landforms?