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The Appalachian Mountains

Two of the most prominent mountain ranges in the world could be found in North America: the Appalachian Mountain Range and the North American Cordillera. The Appalachian Mountains are said to have existed since billion years ago, taking location at the extensive stretch of 2,300 miles northeast to southwest of the continental U. S. The highest elevation is Mt. Mitchell at 6,684 feet. There are several mechanisms which regulated the formation of the Appalachian Mountains, and these include: sedimentation, volcanism, metamorphism, folding, faulting, and other natural processes.

The simultaneous processes of sedimentation and volcanism rocks were later subjected to extreme heat and pressure, therefore undergoing metamorphic processes. The subsequent geologic mechanisms prevented the formation of fossils, as notions suffice that no life forms thrived under the extreme heat and pressure. However, at the Appalachian Plateau, the second type of rocks was formed wherein sedimentary rocks were deposited to form striations. Coal was abundant in the Carboniferous Period.

In the Permian Period, the Appalachian Revolution occurred where a vast interior crumpling resulting from the stress placed on huge masses of subterranean rock had folded and uplifted some parts of the area. The Appalachian belt, being quite old, involved a mountain-building process, or orogeny, which started about 450 million years ago and stopped about 250 million years ago. Because of the discontinuity in orogenic activity, weathering and erosion removed large amounts of bedrock and lowered some of the peaks in the Appalachian Mountain Range.

Meanwhile, the orogenic processes in the North American Cordillera have been occurring over a very long period of time but, unlike the Appalachian Range, still continue today. The Northern American Cordillera is the marginal mountain range located at the western part and takes up about one-third of North America. Geological and geophysical studies have exposed that the processes involved in the mountain-building include rifting, sea-floor spreading, and plate separation, then followed by subduction, ocean-basin closing, and plate accretion.

The Cordillera is made of blocks of crust that were folded and faulted. The Colorado Plateau has step-like tablelands made by the faulting and intruded by domes of igneous rocks, wherein the slow uplifting was matched by the steady down cutting of the Colorado River and its tributaries, thereby producing the Grand Canyon. The current topography of the Cordillera is the result of strong erosion which lowered their original heights below 14,500 feet.

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