and earth science
, a plateau
also called a high plain
, is an area of highland
, usually consisting
of relatively flat terrain. A highly eroded plateau is called a
.A volcanic plateau
is a plateau produced by
Plateaus can be formed by a number of processes, including,
upwelling of magma, excretion of lava, and erosion by water and
glaciers. Magma rises from the mantle causing the ground to swell
upward, in this way large, flat pieces of rock are uplifted.
Plateaus can also be built up by lava spreading outwards from
cracks and weak areas in the crust, an example of such a plateau is
the Columbia Plateau in the northwestern US. Plateaus can also be
formed due to the erosional processes of glaciers on mountain
ranges, in this case the plateaus are left sitting between the
mountain ranges. Water can also erode mountains and other landforms
down into plateaus.
Plateaus are classified according to their surrounding environment,
common categories are: intermontanne, piedmont, and continental
plateaus.Intermontanne plateaus are the highest in the world, these
plateaus are bordered by mountains. The Tibetan plateau is one such
plateau.Piedmont plateaus are bordered on one side by mountains and
on the other by a plain or sea.Continental plateaus are bordered on
all sides by the plains of seas, form away from mountains.
largest and highest plateau in the world is the Tibetan Plateau, called the "roof of
the world", which is still being formed by the collisions of
the Indo-Australian and
Eurasian tectonic plates.
In all the Tibetan
plateau covers an area of some 2.5 million square kilometres which
is approximately 5000m above sea level. The height of this
plateau is such that it is enough to reverse the Hadley convection cycles and drive the monsoons of India to the
In North America
the largest plateau
is the Colorado Plateau
area of 337,000 km² (130,000 mi²).