Plateaus of the World

Columbia Plateau Plateaus of the world

Plateaus are elevated uplands with extensive level surfaces, and usually descend steeply to the surrounding lowlands. Like all highlands plateaux are subjected to erosional processes, which usually results in alteration of their general features. Plateaus form an important landform throughout the geography of the world.

A plateau is an elevated flat land. It is a flat-topped table land standing above the surrounding area.

Plateau Defintion

Types of Plateaus

According to their mode of formation and their physical appearances, plateaus may be divided into following types:

  • Tectonic Plateaux
  • Volcanic Plateaux
  • Dissected Plateaux

Tectonic Plateaux

A tectonic plateau is formed by earth’s movements causing uplifts. Usually, a tectonic plateau is considerable in size and of fairly uniform altitude. Examples include

  • Continental plateau like Deccan plateau in India.
  • Tilted plateau like Meseta of central Iberia.
  • Faulted plateau like Harz of Germany

When a tectonic plateau is enclosed by fold mountains, it is known as intermont plateau. Examples include:

  • Tibetian Plateau between Himalayas & Kunlun
  • Bolvian Plateau between ranges of Andes

Volcanic Plateaux

Volcanic Plateau is formed when molten lava from earth crusts spreads over its surface to form successive sheets of basaltic lava. These sheets solidify to form a lava plateau. Examples include:

  • Columbia-Snake Plateau
  • Antrim Plateau of Northern Ireland
  • North-Western part of Deccan Plateau in India

Dissected Plateaux

These plateaux are formed by continuous process of weathering & erosion by running water, ice or winds. As a result, high & extensive plateaux are gradually worn down and their surfaces get irregular. Sometimes Glaciation but mostly flowing streams cut deep valleys in plateaux and these are described as dissected plateaux. 

How are the Plateaus useful ?

  • Plateaus are very useful as they are rich in mineral deposits.
  • African plateau is famous for gold and diamond mining.
  • Brazilian Plateau has huge resources of iron manganese, particularly in Minas Gerais area.
  • Chhotanagpur plateau in India is a huge reserves of iron, coal and manganese
  • Western Australia plateau is rich in iron & gold.

The Tibet plateau is the highest plateau in the world with a height of 4,000 to 6,000 metres above the mean sea level.

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