When you look at a world map, do you ever wonder what those wrinkle-like surfaces tracing the continents are? When you look at the images of the moon, do you ever think about the chain-like land masses spread in some regions of its face? Well, they are called mountain ranges.
Mountain ranges are a system of mountains – in other words, a collection of mountains geographically linked together. Connected by high ground, these stunning, mostly towering land formations riddle the face of the Earth.
Calm and quiet at a distance, these landforms are also an interesting bunch – tickling our curiosity about how they came to being and what they are exactly. This article will go over some of the most interesting facts about these chains of boulders. If you love hiking, this one’s definitely a good read for you.
- Mountain ranges stretch from 1,000 or more miles long.
- Through the process called orogenesis, mountain ranges are formed when two tectonic plates come together and where a continental plate is crumpled and thickened. An example is The Himalayas which began to form nearly 55 million years ago after pieces of the earth’s crust collided against each other.
- Although mountain ranges are connected in terms of form, structure, and alignment, individual mountains within mountain ranges may differ in some aspects. For instance, they may have different geologic structures and petrology (rock contents and how these rocks were formed).
- Mountain ranges are divided or categorized into sub-ranges in a tree structure. For example, Mahalangur Himal, the location of Mount Everest, is a sub-range of the Himalayas.
- Mountain ranges dramatically influence the climate (such as rain and snow) of the region in which they are located.
- Mountain ranges are brimming with rich biodiversity depending on the region. Exploring the deepest parts of the mountains will reveal various wild animals in their natural habitat and unique plants that are not usually seen in the plains.
- Mountain ranges are not forever as they are constantly eroding due to external and internal forces at play. This erosion causes mountains to be later reduced to low hills and plains.
- Most of Earth’s geologically young mountain ranges belong to the two systems: The Pacific Ring of Fire and The Alpide Belt.
- The Top 5 Mountain Ranges according to length are as follows: Andes (4,300 mi), Rocky Mountains (2,983 mi), Great Dividing Range (2,299 mi), Transantarctic Mountains (2,175 mi), and Himalayas (1,491 mi).
- The Andes is the world’s longest above-water mountain range with a length of about 7,000 km (4,300 mi), stretching from north to south across the seven countries in South America. Its highest peak is Mount Aconcagua, which is roughly 6,962 m (22,841 ft) in height.
- The longest continuous mountain system on Earth, if underwater mountains are considered, is easily the Ocean Ridges with a whopping 65,000 km (40,400 mi) length.
- The Himalayas in Asia is the world’s tallest mountain range and is home to 30 of the Earth’s tallest mountains, including the world’s highest point above sea level, Mount Everest. The mountain stands tall in its elevation (snow height) of 8,848.86 m (29,031.7 ft).
- The Mount Everest is so high and challenging, approximately 1,200 people are attempting to climb it each year, but only half really makes it to the summit.
- The Alps in central Europe is rich in history, one of which is during the Punic War when Hannibal crossed the mountain range from Carthage to attack Rome.
- The Himalayan high peaks like the mountains in Tibet are sacred to Asian religion and culture, specifically Buddhism and Hinduism. It is also home to pilgrim mountaineers of India who, in ancient times, actually coined the name “Himalaya” from the Sanskrit hima meaning “snow” and alaya, which means “abode.”
- The ancient Inca Empire built their famous ancient city of Machu Picchu high in the mountain range of Andes.
- “Rock Mountain High,” a song written by the American singer-songwriter, John Denver, was inspired by the massive cordillera of the Rocky Mountains.
- Some terrestrial planets and/or heavenly bodies have mountain ranges as well. For instance, the Moon has a mountain range in the northern part called Montes Alpes, which was named after the Alps in Europe.
- Mars may have the tallest mountain in the solar system — Olympus Mons, standing in a towering 21 km (13 mi) high and approximately two and a half times taller than our Mount Everest, but it lacks mountain systems or mountain ranges.
- Mountain ranges in Saturn’s moon, Titan, and the planet Pluto are mostly composed of ice instead of rocks.
- The Maxwell Montes on Venus is taller than any mountain range on our planet, rising approximately 11 km or 7 mi above the planet’s mean radius.