In geology, a massif is a section of a planet's crust that is demarcated by faults or flexures. In the movement of the crust, a massif tends to retain its internal structure while being displaced as a whole. The term is also used to refer to a group of mountains formed by such a structure.

In mountaineering and climbing literature, a massif is frequently used to denote the main mass of an individual mountain. The massif is a smaller structural unit of the crust than a tectonic plate and is considered the fourth largest driving force in geomorphology.[1]

The word is taken from French (in which the word also means "massive"), where it is used to refer to a large mountain mass or compact group of connected mountains forming an independent portion of a range. One of the most notable European examples of a massif is the Massif Central of the Auvergne region of France.

The Face on Mars is an example of an extraterrestrial massif.[2]

Massifs may also form underwater such as with the Atlantis Massif. [3]

Panoramic view of Mont Blanc massif, an example of a massif and also the highest summit in the Alps.[4]


List of massifs





North America



South America



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  • massif — massif, ive [ masif, iv ] adj. et n. m. • 1480; massis 1180; de 1. masse I ♦ Adj. 1 ♦ Dont la masse occupe tout le volume apparent; qui n est pas creux (⇒ plein), qui n est pas un revêtement. Bijou en or massif. Porte en chêne massif. Roche… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • massif — massif, ive (ma sif, si v ) adj. 1°   Qui est ou qui paraît épais et pesant. •   De pilastres massifs les cloisons revêtues En moins de deux instants s élèvent jusqu aux nues, LA FONT. Phil. et Bauc.. •   Ainsi la terre, toute massive qu elle est …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • massif — Massif, [mass]ive. adj. Qui est gros, solide & pesant. Il se dit particulierement des bastiments & des meubles qui sont de bois ou de metal. Ce bastiment est trop massif. une grosse tour massive. je ne veux pas de la vaisselle si massive, des… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • massif — cluster of hills, 1520s, from Fr. massif (see MASSIVE (Cf. massive)), here used as a noun in French; e.g. the Massif Central, name of the plateau in the middle of southern France …   Etymology dictionary

  • massif — Massif, Solidus. Qui n est point massif ne serré, Rarus. Fait en rond et massif, Globosus. Toute chose massive et espesse comme paste, Massa. Quand on sent une chose estre massive à la taster, Spissus tactus …   Thresor de la langue françoyse

  • massif — n. (Geol.) A block of the earth s crust bounded by faults and shifted to form peaks of a mountain range. [WordNet 1.5] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Massif — Massif, Gebirg, so v.w. Massengebirge 2) …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • massif — ► NOUN ▪ a compact group of mountains. ORIGIN from French, massive …   English terms dictionary

  • massif — [ma sēf′, mas′if] n. [Fr, lit., solid: see MASSIVE] Geol. 1. mountainous mass broken up into separate peaks and forming the backbone of a mountain range 2. a large block of the earth s crust that is isolated by boundary faults and has shifted as… …   English World dictionary

  • MASSIF — IVE. adj. Qui est ou qui paraît épais et pesant. Ce bâtiment est trop massif. Je ne veux pas avoir de la vaisselle si massive, des chenets si massifs. De la menuiserie trop massive. Cet homme a le corps trop massif, est trop massif.   Il signifie …   Dictionnaire de l'Academie Francaise, 7eme edition (1835)

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