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Name
Plains, Mountains, and Plateaus
By Cindy Grigg
Caption: A picture of
the Great Plains, west of
Kearney, Nebraska.
Almost three-fourths of
Earth is covered by oceans.
A little more than
one-fourth of our Earth is
land. There are seven
large masses of land called continents. Oceans and continents are
landforms. A landform is a feature of Earth's land surface. There are
several kinds of landforms. Three landforms are plains, mountains,
and plateaus.
Plains are large, mostly flat areas of low-lying land. The middle
part of the United States is called the Great Plains. The Great Plains
are dry, grassy plains with few trees. Most of these grasslands have
been turned into farmland. Farmers grow wheat and corn there.
Along the coasts of the United States are coastal plains. The
Atlantic Coastal Plain lies along the eastern coast of the U.S. The
land has a low elevation. It is close to sea level. There are low
rolling hills, swamps, and marshes. A marsh is a grassy wetland. It
is often covered by water. The Florida Everglades is another coastal
plain. It is sometimes called "the river of grass." Almost one-half of
the land in the United States is plains.
Mountains rise high above the nearby land. Mountains are often
rocky areas of land. They usually have pointed peaks. They have
steep or sloping sides. Mountains are taller than hills.
The highest mountain in the United States is a little over 6,000
meters above sea level. That's about 20,000 feet, more than three
and one-half miles high! The world's highest mountain is Mt.
Everest. It is more than 8,800 meters above sea level. That's more
than five miles high!
The third type of landform is plateaus. Plateaus are mostly flat areas
of land. But they are different from plains because they have steep
slopes. The Colorado Plateau is a good example of a plateau in the
United States. Plateaus are also called tablelands because they are
very much like a table-much higher than land around them and flat
on top.
Some plateaus are very flat. Others have been worn by water and
wind over many years. This erosion has caused interesting features.
There may be deep valleys or canyons cut into the land. In the
Colorado Plateau, the Colorado River has worn through the rock.
The Grand Canyon was formed in this way.
Some plateaus were once mountains. Wind and water have worn
down them down. What once were tall, peaked mountains are now
flat-topped plateaus. Some plateaus are made by molten rock
pouring from the Earth's crust. The Colombia Plateau along the
northwestern coast of the U.S. is one example.
Landforms are interesting features. They were formed and
changed over many years by weathering, erosion, and plate tectonic
movements.
Plains, Mountains, and Plateaus
Questions
1. Continents, oceans, plains, plateaus, and mountains are all
______.
A. land areas
B. landforms
C. made by man
D. all of the above
2. What are plains?
A. land area with no interesting features
B. large, mostly flat low-lying areas of land with few trees
C. mostly flat areas of land higher than land around it and
having steep slopes
D. high and rocky land areas with steep or sloping sides
8. Give an example of a plateau in the United States.
Name
3. What are mountains?
A. high and rocky land areas with steep or sloping sides
B. mostly flat areas of land higher than land around it and
having steep slopes
C. land area with no interesting features
D. large, mostly flat low-lying areas of land with few trees
4. What are plateaus?
A. large, mostly flat low-lying areas of land with few trees
B. land area with no interesting features
C. high and rocky land areas with steep or sloping sides
D. mostly flat areas of land higher than land around it and
having steep slopes
5. Almost one-half of the land in the United States is ______.
A. plains
B. plateaus
C. mountains
D. none of the above
6. How are plateaus formed?
A. molten rock pouring from the Earth's crust
B. mountain tops worn down by wind and water
C. both A and B
D. none of the above
7. What is the tallest mountain in the world?
Do research about Earth's landforms. Choose one that is not
described in this reading passage and write a paragraph about the
landform you chose.
Name
Compare plains, plateaus, and mountains. Describe features of each.
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