Landforms are the features that make up the earth's surface. They can be as large as an ocean or as small as a puddle. They are shaped by a variety of processes.
Processes that create landforms include tectonic activity such as earthquakes and volcanoes, and weathering, erosion and glaciation. The branch of geology called geomorphology studies these forms and processes for clues about the origin of the earth's landscape.
The three major types of landforms are plateaus, mountains and plains. Plateaus are at least 1,968 feet above sea level, broad and flat. Mountains have steep sides, narrow summits and high elevations. Plains are flat areas with low elevations that never rise far above sea level.
The minor landforms are categorized by the ways they were formed, such as:
- volcanic activity
- glacial activity
- running water
Some of these landforms include beaches, u-shaped valleys, flood plains, volcanoes, landslides and dunes.