The Earth's Southern Hemisphere consists of the area south of the Equator, or zero degrees latitude. Within the Earth's southern half lies numerous mountain ranges and mountain peaks exceeding 10,000 feet. The ranges generally formed from the uplifting of rock at plate boundaries. Many of the Southern Hemisphere's mountains are glaciers or have snow-covered peaks. The locations of these glaciers vary, from Antarctica where ice accumulates, to middle latitudes and even near the Equator.
South America features the Andes, which formed from a significant uplift of continental rock. As the world's longest mountain range, the Andes run approximately 4,350 miles along South America's Pacific Coast from the continent's northern end to its southern tip. At 22,929 feet, Cerro Aconcagua in Argentina is the Andes' and the Southern Hemisphere's highest mountain. South America has 204 volcanoes, of which 122 are glacier-clad stratovolcanoes.
Australia has the lowest average elevation among the seven continents. The continent's highest point, Mount Kosciuszko (7,314 feet), is located in the Great Dividing Range. This region separates Australia's east coast from the inland and includes the Blue Mountains. Australia also features rock structures such as Mount Augustus, which rises 3,626 feet above sea level and is clearly visible for approximately 100 miles.
New Zealand consists principally of two islands. Mountain ranges cover approximately 60 percent of the South Island, which has 23 named peaks exceeding 9,800 feet high and 3,000 glaciers. Mt. Cook (12,316 feet), New Zealand's highest peak, is located on the South Island. On the North Island, mountain ranges account for 20 percent of land cover. Only three mountains on the North Island exceed 6,500 feet. All of these are volcanoes. The North Island also has a range of smaller mountains to the east of the volcanoes.
Africa sits on a stationary crustal plate and did not experience the collisions with other plates that form mountains. As a result, Africa below the equator does not have a mountain range. However, east Africa is home to 19,340-foot Mt. Kilimanjaro. Due to its height, Kilimanjaro has a glacier near its peak even though the mountain sits only three degrees south of the Equator.
Mountains in Antarctica developed from the uplifting of the Earth's crust and ice. The Transantarctic Mountain range divides the continent, runs approximately 2,175 miles along the boundary of two tectonic plates from the Pacific to Atlantic Oceans. Peaks in the Transantarctics reach almost 2.5 miles high. Antarctica also has subglaciers, or "ghost mountains," which form as large amounts of water refreeze on the underside of ice sheets. The Gamburstev Subglacial Mountains are covered by up to 1.8 miles of ice.
- DTIC Online: "Southern Hemisphere Glacier Atlas"; Mercer; June 1967
- Smithsonian Institute: Centres of Plant Diversity: South America Regional Overview
- Australian Government: Australian Rocks and Mountains
- New Zealand Government: Mountains: South Island Mountains
- Smithsonian: Global Volcanism Program: Kilimanjaro
- Elseveir: Tectonophysics: "Formation of the Transantarctic Mountains..."; van Wijka et. al; Mar. 28, 2008
About the Author
Christopher Raines enjoys sharing his knowledge of business, financial matters and the law. He earned his business administration and law degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. As a lawyer since August 1996, Raines has handled cases involving business, consumer and other areas of the law.
Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images