Types of relief

It is called relief to the irregularities and unevenness that are formed in the continental and oceanic earth's crust due to the geological processes that constantly occur on Earth. The reliefs are the object of study of geomorphology.

There are different types of relief whose formations cover a process of change of millions of years, hence more recent reliefs can be differentiated from those that are older.

On the other hand, there are also reliefs whose origins are due to the development of various human activities, such as mining.

Continental or emerged relief

The continental relief is that found in the emerged areas, covering about 30% of the earth's crust.

The continental relief presents various irregularities on the surface of the Earth as a result of erosion, rains, earthquakes and other land actions that occur over time.


Mountains are one of the best known and easiest to identify by people. They are elevations that can reach several kilometers above sea level.

Much of the mountains have been formed as a result of the folding of the earth's crust due to the car of the tectonic plates. Some mountains even derive from volcanic activity and its eruptions.

Among its parts, the following can be differentiated: the top, the slope and the valley, which is the terrain that is located between two mountains. Its lines and surfaces are due to the effects of erosion over time.

Mountains can be grouped into cordilleras (continuous group of large mountains), sierras (series of mountains of regular size), and mountain system (set of cordilleras or sierras).


Hills are smaller elevations than mountains and are gentle slopes. Generally, the hills are a maximum of one hundred meters high. They can form due to the erosion of large mountains or a fault in the ground.


Valleys are formed between depressions or lower parts of the mountains that are nearby. They are flat lands often crossed by rivers, whose erosion also participates in the formation of valleys.

Some of these rivers, depending on the geographical area in which they are found, originate from the melting of glaciers.

Also, the valleys can be shaped like a "U" or a "V". The "U" shaped valleys are those formed after glacial erosion, they have a concave bottom and uneven walls. Valleys in the shape of a "V" are formed after the erosion of a river.


The plateaus or plateaus are high and ancient reliefs with flat surfaces due to the effects of erosion and erosion of the mountains. They can be found between 600 and 5000 meters above sea level. The highest plateaus are located in Tibet, Asia.


Plains are large areas of land that are a few meters above sea level and can be surrounded by mountains or hills. These tracts of land have gentle elevations and can vary in size depending on their extent.


Depressions are those areas that are below the level of the terrain that surrounds them. Its origin is varied, in some cases it is due to erosion, the impact of meteorites, among others.

Oceanic or submerged relief

The oceanic or submerged relief is made up of the ocean floor, which is characterized by being less irregular compared to the continental relief, this is because it is protected by water and is not in contact with the various erosive agents.

The oceanic relief can also be called marine relief or ocean floor and occupies approximately 70% of the earth's surface. Among the types of oceanic relief, the following can be mentioned:

Continental platform

It covers the space from the coastline to 200 meters deep. It is characterized by having a wide diversity of vegetation and marine species.

Continental slope

The continental shelf is continued by the continental slope or bathyal region, where the ground level drops violently. It is found at a depth between 2,500 and 3,500 meters deep. In this area it is common to find sediments and remains of various marine species.

Oceanic trench

The oceanic trench is characterized by reaching the greatest depths of the oceanic relief. It is a narrow cavity that can have, starting from the slope, more than 5000 meters deep.

Generally, it is located near a geological fault and the temperature of the water is quite low because it is not exposed to the sun's rays.

Abyssal pit

It is located on the ocean floor in the form of a plain and has a great depth calculated between 3000 and 6000 meters. Therefore, it is one of the least explored and studied reliefs. Sediments of animal and plant origin lie on the ground.

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