In geology and physical geography a plateau ( /pləˈtoʊ/,
/plæˈtoʊ/ or /ˈplætoʊ/; plural plateaus or plateaux),is
also called a high plain or a tableland, it is an area of a highland,
usually consisting of relatively flat terrain that is raised
significantly above the surrounding area, often with one or more sides
with steep slopes. Plateaus can be formed by a number of processes,
including upwelling of volcanic magma, extrusion of lava, and erosion
by water and glaciers. Plateaus are classified according to their
surrounding environment as intermontane, Piedmont, or continental.
3 Large plateaus
3.3 North America
3.4 South America
4 See also
6 External links
Plateaus can be formed by a number of processes, including upwelling
of volcanic magma, extrusion of lava, and erosion by water and
Main article: volcanic plateau
Volcanic plateaus are produced by volcanic activity. The Columbia
Plateau in the northwestern
United States is an example. They may be
formed by upwelling of volcanic magma or extrusion of lava.
Pajarito Plateau in
New Mexico is an example of a volcanic
The underlining mechanism in forming plateaus from upwelling starts
when magma rises from the mantle, causing the ground to swell upward.
In this way, large, flat areas of rock are uplifted to form a plateau.
For plateaus formed by extrusion, the rock is built up from lava
spreading outward from cracks and weak areas in the crust.
Plateaus can also be formed by the erosional processes of glaciers on
mountain ranges, leaving them sitting between the mountain ranges.
Water can also erode mountains and other landforms down into plateaus.
Dissected plateaus are highly eroded plateaus cut by rivers and broken
by deep narrow valleys. Computer modeling studies suggest that high
plateaus may also be partially a result from the feedback between
tectonic deformation and dry climatic conditions created at the lee
side of growing orogens.
Plateaux are classified according to their surrounding environment.
Intermontane plateaus are the highest in the world, bordered by
Tibetan Plateau is one such plateau.
Piedmont plateaus are bordered on one side by mountains and on the
other by a plain or a sea. The
Piedmont Plateau of the Eastern United
States between the
Appalachian Mountains and the Atlantic Coastal
Plain is an example.
Continental plateaus are bordered on all sides by plains or oceans,
forming away from the mountains. An example of a continental plateau
Antarctic Plateau or
Polar Plateau in East Antarctica.
The largest and highest plateau in the world is the Tibetan Plateau,
sometimes metaphorically described as the "roof of the world", which
is still being formed by the collisions of the Indo-Australian and
Eurasian tectonic plates. The Tibetan plateau covers approximately
2,500,000 km2 (970,000 sq mi), at about 5,000 m
(16,000 ft) above sea level. The plateau is sufficiently high
enough to reverse the
Hadley cell convection cycles and to drive the
India towards the south.
The second-highest plateau is the Deosai
Plateau of the Deosai
National Park (also known as Deoasai Plains) at an average elevation
of 4,114 m (13,497 ft). It is located in the Astore and
Skardu districts of Gilgit-Baltistan, in northern Pakistan. Deosai
means 'the land of giants'. The park protects an area of
3,000 km2 (1,200 sq mi). It is known for its rich flora
and fauna of the Karakoram-West
Tibetan Plateau alpine steppe
ecoregion. In spring it is covered by sweeps of wildflowers and a wide
variety of butterflies. The highest point in Deosai is Deosai Lake, or
Lake from the Shina language meaning "Blind lake" (Sheo –
Blind, Sar – lake) near the Chilim Valley. The lake lies at an
elevation of 4,142 m (13,589 ft), one of the highest lakes
in the world, and is 2.3 km (1.4 mi) long, 1.8 km
(1.1 mi) wide, and 40 m (130 ft) deep on average.
Hardangervidda, the largest plateau in Europe
Colombia is located in a high plateau, over 8,600 ft
(2,600 m) high
Some other major plateaus in Asia are:
Najd in the Arabian Peninsula
elevation 762 to 1,525 m (2,500 to 5,003 ft), Armenian Highlands
(~400,000 km2 (150,000 sq mi), elevation 900–2,100
metres (3,000–6,900 ft)),
Iranian plateau (~3,700,000 km2
(1,400,000 sq mi), elevation 300–1,500 metres
(980–4,920 ft)), Anatolian Plateau, Mongolian Plateau
(~2,600,000 km2 (1,000,000 sq mi), elevation
1,000–1,500 metres (3,300–4,900 ft)), and the Deccan Plateau
(~1,900,000 km2 (730,000 sq mi), elevation 300–600
metres (980–1,970 ft)).
Another very large plateau is the icy Antarctic Plateau, which is
sometimes referred to as the Polar Plateau, home to the geographic
South Pole and the Amundsen-Scott
South Pole Station, which covers
East Antarctica where there are no known mountains but rather
3,000 m (9,800 ft) high of superficial ice and which spreads
very slowly toward the surrounding coastline through enormous
glaciers. This polar ice cap is so massive that the echolocation sound
measurements of ice thickness have shown that large parts of the
Antarctic "dry land" surface have been pressed below sea level. Thus,
if that same ice cap were suddenly removed, the large areas of the
frozen white continent would be flooded by the surrounding Antarctic
Ocean or Southern Ocean. On the other hand, were the ice cap melts
away too gradually, the surface of the land beneath it would gradually
rebound away through isostasy from the center of the
Earth and that
same land would ultimately rise above sea level.
A large plateau in
North America is the
Colorado Plateau, which covers
about 337,000 km2 (130,000 sq mi) in Colorado, Utah,
Arizona and New Mexico.
Arizona and southern
Colorado Plateau is bisected
River and the Grand Canyon. How this came to be is
that over 10 million years ago, a river was already there, though not
necessarily on exactly the same course. Then, subterranean geological
forces caused the land in that part of
North America to gradually rise
by about a centimeter per year for millions of years. An unusual
balance occurred: the river that would become the
able to erode into the crust of the
Earth at a nearly equal rate to
the uplift of the plateau. Now, millions of years later, the North Rim
Grand Canyon is at an elevation of about 2,450 m
(8,040 ft) above sea level, and the South Rim of the Grand Canyon
is about 2,150 m (7,050 ft) above sea level. At its deepest,
River is about 1,830 m (6,000 ft) below the
level of the North Rim.
Another high altitude plateau in
North America is the Mexican Plateau.
With an area of 601,882 km2 (232,388 sq mi) and average
height of 1,825 m, it is the home of more than 70 million people.
Main article: Tepui
A tepui ( /ˈtɛpwi/), or tepuy (Spanish: [teˈpui]), is a
table-top mountain or mesa found in the
Guiana Highlands of South
America, especially in
Venezuela and western Guyana. The word tepui
means "house of the gods" in the native tongue of the Pemon, the
indigenous people who inhabit the Gran Sabana.
Tepuis can be considered minute plateaus and tend to be found as
isolated entities rather than in connected ranges, which makes them
the host of a unique array of endemic plant and animal species. Some
of the most outstanding tepuis are Neblina, Autana, Auyan and Mount
Roraima. They are typically composed of sheer blocks of Precambrian
quartz arenite sandstone that rise abruptly from the jungle, giving
rise to spectacular natural scenery.
Auyantepui is the source of Angel
Falls, the world's tallest waterfall.
The Colombian capital city of Bogota sits on an Andean plateau known
Altiplano Cundiboyacense roughly the size of Switzerland.
Averaging a height of 2,600 metres above sea level, this northern
Andean plateau is situated in the country's eastern range and is
divided into three main flat regions; the
Bogotá savanna, the valleys
Ubaté and Chiquinquirá, and the valleys of
Duitama and Sogamoso.
Road to the ALMA’s Operations Support Facility and then on further
Plateau at 5000 meters above sea level.
The parallel Sierra of Andes delimit one of the world highest
plateaux: the Altiplano, (Spanish for "high plain"), Andean
Bolivian Plateau. It lies in west-central South America, where the
Andes are at their widest, is the most extensive area of high plateau
Earth outside of Tibet. The bulk of the
Altiplano lies within
Bolivian and Peruvian territory while its southern parts lie in Chile
and Argentina. The
Altiplano plateau hosts several cities like Puno,
Oruro, Potosí, Cuzco and La Paz, the administrative seat of Bolivia.
Altiplano is more humid than the Southwestern, the latter
of which hosts several salares, or salt flats, due to its aridity. At
the Bolivia-Peru border lies
Lake Titicaca, the largest lake in South
The highest African plateau is the
Ethiopian Highlands which cover the
central part of Ethiopia. It forms the largest continuous area of its
altitude in the continent, with little of its surface falling below
1500 m (4,921 ft), while the summits reach heights of up to
4550 m (14,928 ft). It is sometimes called the Roof of
Africa due to its height and large area.
Another example is the
Highveld which is the portion of the South
African inland plateau which has an altitude above approximately
1500 m, but below 2100 m, thus excluding the Lesotho
mountain regions. It is home to some of largest South-African urban
The Western Plateau, part of the Australian Shield, is an ancient
craton covering much of the continent's southwest, an area of some
700,000 square kilometres. It has an average elevation of between 305
and 460 m.
Plateau is an area of high land occupying
much of the centre of the
North Island of New Zealand, with volcanoes,
lava plateaus, and crater lakes, the most notable of which is the
country's largest lake,
Lake Taupo. The plateau stretches
approximately 100 km east to west and 130 km north to south.
The majority of the plateau is more than 600 m above sea level.
Deosai National Park
Oceanic plateau for submarine or undersea plateaux
^ "Definition of plateau". American English Dictionary.
Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
^ "Definition of plateau". Cambridge English Dictionary. Cambridge
University Press. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
^ Garcia-Castellanos, D., 2007. The role of climate during high
plateau formation. Insights from numerical experiments.
Sci. Lett. 257, 372-390, doi:10.1016/j.epsl.2007.02.039 pdf
^ Leighty, Dr. Robert D. (2001). "
Colorado Plateau Physiographic
Province". Contract Report. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
(DOD) Information Sciences Office. Archived from the original on
2004-09-26. Retrieved 2007-12-25.
Road to the Stars". Retrieved 27 July 2015.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Plateaus.
Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article
"Plateau" at scienceclarified.com
travel-university.org[permanent dead link]
List of landforms
See also: Ge