• Plateaus are raised sections of land that have been upwelled by natural forces and have been further modified by water through erosion.
  • Magma also produces holes in the lithosphere and creates volcanoes. Magma also raises the ground and forms plateaus.
  • The San Rafael River today is the culprit for carving out the Little Grand Canyon in Utah millions of years ago.

Plateaus are extensive, flat uplands found on every continent as one of the four major landforms on the planet. Altogether, plateaus occupy one-third of the planet’s surface with the largest plateau being the Tibetan Plateau, which is found in Tibet China and India covering an area of about 1.5 million square miles. The total area of land that is 2.5 million square kilometers.


The location of the plateau in the world is an important determinant in how it came to be its composition and what erosive forces are acting on it. Some plateaus, including the Altiplano in southern Peru and western Bolivia, are part of the area’s mountain belts. The flat tops of some plateaus are covered with less erosion than others. The world has many different environments, such as the famous Colorado Plateau where the Grand Canyon was formed or the Deccan plateau in Central India, which were created by completely different geological processes and have their own unique characteristics.

Plates are generally formed in three ways: The forces of nature raise a region of land up out of the surrounding area, while wind and rain shape sandstone into mesas and mesas into buttes, which wear down the sides and carve arches and hoodoos. All plateaus in the world are created by one or a combination of three ways.

  • The Earth’s crust is heated by hot magma.
  • Crustal shortening
  • Through volcanic activity involving lava deposits.

Some scientists also consider the water’s erosive force to be nature’s fourth way of creating plateaus, although usually the primary factors have also existed. The Grand Canyon in the Colorado Plateau is an example of the great erosive force that water from the Colorado River had on carving out this beautiful canyon. Wash the soil in the bottoms of valleys. Run water through the bottoms of valleys to wash away sediment.

Lithosphere Heating

This type of plateau formation begins with volcanism, but occurs in a different way than volcanism. In this process, hot moving magma under the Earth’s surface induces thermal expansion of the crust and the upper mantle of the Earth. The lithosphere is the outer layer of the Earth’s surface. Due to the high temperature underneath some parts of the Earth’s crust, it gets pushed upward. The upwelling in the ground exudes the visible layer of the Earth, creating a plateau.

A flat plateau that is composed of underlying volcanic rock was formed by this process. Where the ground was level to begin with, the plateaus were uplifted evenly. Uplands around Lake Victoria are commonly marked by elongated depressions, indicating their elevation above sea level. Nature wears the leaves down over time. Once they are worn down, they fall.

Crustal Shortening

When other processes are involved, large mountains eventually form. As one plate of the earth’s crust is pushed under another plate — which is how some mountain ranges are formed — the resulting mountains fold and collapse on themselves. Place a plate on top of the mountain. The plate will create a rolling, level surface that will gradually diminish and flatten out into a valley. These plateaus generally feature a mixture of flat surfaces, hillsides and valleys with crumbled remnants of the former mountain wall.

In the mountains of the world they are found in impressive heights and mountains. Also native to the region are rapidly flowing rivers and streams that help shape and carve into their surfaces and deposit sediment over time. The uplands feature impressive ridges and slopes. Some older plateaus have new sedimentary deposits and can be flat, while the erosion-resistant valley basements in drier areas can be rocky.

Landmasses often collide with one another, like the Indian landmass and Eurasia. Some countries are affected by this type of Plateau, such as North Africa, Turkey, Iran, and even Tibet. Crustal shortening is the process that allows for continental crust to be broken down. The Himalayas were created due to the fact that they are a plateau. The Altiplano is also formed in this manner.


This process involves the burying of the terrain by lava and volcanic ash. Not surprisingly, hot spots for volcanism are in countries with current or former volcanic activity. Plateaus themselves, however, are commonly found at great distances from volcanoes as lava and ash flow. The plateaus form over a long period of time through multiple volcanic eruptions.

This area has different geologic composition than the other two plateaus. The flat, plateau with flood basalts is covered in basalt. The relatively flat, former volcanic plateau is made of flood basalts. The rock composition that is found in the region will vary depending on its climate, and other natural factors. It may be a plateau with canyon incision and valley dents.

Other Types

Oceanic Plateaus

The oceanic plateaus are hidden underwater, so they are less prone to change. They are also devoid of human visitors. Nevertheless, they have also been studied to determine their composition density and age the three factors that differentiate them from one another. The three factors that differentiate them include: The oldest of the oceanic plateaus are the first type, which are composed out of the oldest and least dense continental crust. The middle-aged oceanic plateaus are made out of more dense igneous rock. The densest and youngest of the oceanic plateaus are the second type.

Dissected Plateaus

These are formed by erosion of sediment by flowing water. For example, the eastern part of the Plateau of Tibet is believed to have dissected terrain due to the headwaters of many Asian rivers that eroded much of the rock and left behind deep canyons. Such plateaus are defined by ridged piercings in rock. The ground is level and smooth, without much variation in elevation. The uplands consist of mountains and ridges, and although there are no steep slopes, the valleys between them are mostly level.

Important Characteristics

The plateaus are formed by a single process or through a series of events. While the lowland plateaus are generally enclosed by mountains, steep hills outline the upland plateaus. All in all, the topography of the plateaus is dynamic in nature. Driving on the plateau is rather gentle and even the hilly regions allow for comfortable driving and exploration. Most plateaus have raised exteriors, which are vast and some areas may be more prone to change than others. Plateaus often differ within themselves as well as by their surrounding areas in the world. Found. Found. Found. Found. Found. Found. Found.

The Altiplano is located near the Cordillera Occidental, which is a volcanic mountain range. This mountain range was formed by the expansion of the lithosphere and by crustal shortening being in close proximity to where the Brazilian shield has slid under the Cordillera.

In various areas of the Ethiopian Plateau, where the older Precambrian rock has been uplifted by the heating of the lithosphere, the terrain is more rugged, while those areas covered by the more recent Cenozoic rock are flatter. The high and flat plateau in Tibet was initially formed through crust shortening. Volcanic activity is important because it creates and supplies minerals and other elements. It has a great influence on the surrounding environment and the surrounding Earth.

In the north-western United States, the Columbia Plateau is cut by the Columbia River between the Cascade and Rocky Mountain ranges. It also has large stretches of basaltic lava flows.

It is possible that different regions and climates have created certain geologic processes or processes that can alter the surface of the Earth over time.

Erosion And Composition

A number of plateaus have rivers that cut through them. In some areas, the river has washed out the edges of the plateau, creating a little canyon. In other places, it has worn away the edges of a plateau to create a valley. The San Rafael River is the culprit behind carving out the Little Grand Canyon in Utah, millions of years ago.

Plateaus are often topped with a solid surface called caprock, which prevents the soil beneath from shifting.

Rugged, heavily eroded plateaus can split apart to form outliers. Overlapping plateaus look like snakeskin when viewed from above, with lighter portions and darker cracks in between. Plateaus made of dense rock resist erosion.

Geographic Distribution

Since there have been no volcanic eruptions strong enough to create a plateau in the last tens of millions of years, volcanic plateaus like the three largest basalt plateaus in the world are determined to be from the Cenozoic or Mesozoic times. These plateaus formed 250 million years ago.

Based on the extensive basalts found on its surface, the Deccan Plateau in India dates back to about 65 million years ago. When India was drifting above what is currently under Reunion Island, there was a volcanic eruption 135 million years ago. The Serra Geral Plateau in Brazil was created from a volcanic eruption during the Cretaceous Period 135 million years ago. This passage is about a volcanic island in the Atlantic Ocean, called Tristan da Cunha, which was created millions of years ago, when the South American and African continents were connected. Finally the basalts that cover the Columbia River on land that is now part of Yellowstone National Park date back to when this land was covered by lakes then.

There are many plateaus in the world that have been formed by Earth expansion caused by magmatic activity. In the US, there is the Yellowstone Plateau in Wyoming and Montana, which was formed from a hot pocket of molten rock beneath the surface. In France, there is a plateau in central France called The Massif Central. It was formed from magma rising slowly through cracks to the surface in granite without breaking through. In Africa, there is an Ethiopian Plateau. This plateau has

Scientists are still baffled by the flat topographical features of north-central Mexico and Spain. They believe these features were formed through crustal shortening around the Cenozoic, 65 million years ago. These features are not thick crusts. This theory rests on this assumption. Only a guess can be made that an upper layer of hot rock must have been underlying those regions.