Landscape Facts



  • The Earth’s surface changes all the time. Most changes take millions of years. Sometimes the landscape is reshaped suddenly by an avalanche or a volcano.
  • The Earth’s surface is distorted and re-formed from below by the huge forces of the Earth’s interior.
  • The Earth’s surface is molded from above by weather, water, waves, ice, wind and other ‘agents of erosion.
  • Most landscapes, except deserts, are molded by running water, which explains why hills have rounded slopes. A dry landscape is more angular, but even in deserts water often plays a major shaping role.
  • Mountain peaks are jagged because it is so cold high up that the rocks are often shattered by frost.
  • An American scientist W. M. Davis (1850-1935) thought landscapes are shaped by repeated ‘cycles of erosion’.
  • Davis’s cycles of erosion have three stages: vigorous ‘youth,’ steady ‘maturity’ and sluggish ‘old age’.
  • Observation has shown that erosion does not become more sluggish as time goes on, as Davis believed.
  • Many landscapes have been shaped by forces no longer in operation, such as moving ice during past Ice Ages.
  • Rivers are one of the most powerful agents of erosion.