Among the most striking of geologic features are mountains, created by several types of tectonic forces, including collisions between continental masses. Mountains have long had an impact on the human psyche, for instance by virtue of their association with the divine in the Greek myths, the Bible, and other religious or cultural traditions. One does not need to be a geologist to know what a mountain is; indeed there is no precise definition of mountain, though in most cases the distinction between a mountain and a hill is fairly obvious. On the other hand, the defining characteristics of a volcano are more apparent. Created by violent tectonic forces, a volcano usually is considered a mountain, and almost certainly is one after it erupts, pouring out molten rock and other substances from deep in the earth.
HOW IT WORKS
Earth is constantly moving, driven by forces beneath its surface. The interior of Earth itself is divided into three major sections: the crust, mantle, and core. The lithosphere is the upper layer of Earth’s interior, including the crust and the brittle portion at the top of the mantle. Tectonism is the deformation of the lithosphere, and the term tectonics refers to the study of this deformation. Most notable among examples of tectonic deformation is mountain building, or orogenesis, discussed later in this essay.