Tectonic uplift


Tectonic uplift
Kupe's Sail New Zealand

Tectonic uplift is a geological process most often caused by plate tectonics which increases elevation. The opposite of uplift is subsidence, which results in a decrease in elevation. Uplift may be orogenic or isostatic.

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Orogenic uplift

Orogenic uplift is the result of tectonic-plate collisions and results in mountain ranges or a more modest uplift over a large region. The Himalayas were (and are still being) formed by the collision of two continental plates, the Indian and Eurasian Plates. This ongoing collision produced the Tibetan Plateau as well as the Himalayas and associated ranges. Ozark Plateau is a broad uplifted area which resulted from the Ouachita Orogeny to the south during the Permian Period. Another related uplift is the Llano Uplift in Texas, a geographical location named after its uplift features. The Colorado Plateau with its spectacular scenic canyons, the Grand Canyon, is also the result of broad tectonic uplift followed by river erosion.

Isostatic uplift

Isostatic uplift includes the gradual uplift following rapid erosional removal of material from a mountain range. The land rises as a result of the removal of the weight. Another example of isostatic uplift is post-glacial rebound following the melting of continental glaciers and ice sheets. The Hudson Bay region of Canada and the Great Lakes of Canada and the United States are currently undergoing gradual rebound as a result of the melting of the ice sheets 10,000 years ago.

Coral islands

In a few cases, tectonic uplift can be seen in the cases of coral islands. This is evidenced by the presence of various oceanic islands composed entirely of coral, which otherwise appear to be high islands (i.e., islands of volcanic origin). Examples of such islands are found in the Pacific, notably the three phosphate islets, Nauru, Makatea, and Banaba as well as Maré and Lifou in New-Caledonia, Fatu Huku in the Marquesas Islands and Henderson Island in the Pitcairn Islands. The uplift of these islands is the result of the movement of oceanic tectonic plates. Sunken islands or guyots with their coral reefs are the result of crustal subsidence as the oceanic plate carries the islands to deeper or lower oceanic crust areas.

See also

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