Change the shape of mountains

As a consequence of rain and storms, water fell in a more or less uniform way down the slopes and the rocky walls of the mountains, changing and breaking the rocks into many fragments. Those fragments fell towards the bottom of the mountains due to the force of gravity, forming piles of debris called debris layers.
Debris layers can be easily recognized at the bottom of rocky walls on the Dolomites.
Movements and landslides
Chemical alterations and the degradation of rocks on a slope facilitate the force of gravity. This leads to the slope moving fast or slowly towards the bottom of the mountain. Landslides are the rapid movement of compact rocks, debris masses, large quantities of clay and water or a mixture of mud, soil and rock debris. Landslides originate after or during intense rainy periods. Those slopes that are characterized by dry mud after a long period of draught absorb a big quantity of water after a prolonged rain. The muddy material becomes very fluid and heavy and moves at a speed of up to several kilometres an hour. Landslides can be dangerous and have catastrophic consequences.

Special reports

  • 7 January 2010

    Alps and Appennines

    The term orogeny was born from the Greek words...

    13 May 2013

    Small steps, great footprints

    Have you ever wondered how much space is taken up by an apple or a steak?...

    5 September 2007

    The Mediterranean sea

    The warm blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea...

  • 10 November 2011


    When studying landslide phenomena, it is opportune to distinguish...

    2 October 2011

    The hydrogeological risk

    On the sides of watercourses are plains...

    28 August 2020

    The Earth seen from above: signs of fires

    This image was taken by the ASTER sensor installed on the NASA TERRA satellite platform. The image was taken on…

  • 15 July 2020

    Earth viewed from above

    Remote satellite sensing: what it is and what it is used for In the scientific field, the images produced by…

    30 April 2019

    Urban woods

    When walking along a tree-lined avenue in a crowded and traffic-congested city, wrapped up in our daily commitments, we do…

    12 April 2019

    Easter with extinct friends

    Easter Island is shaped like a triangle with three extinct volcanoes placed at the vertices, and has a total area…

From the Multimedia section


  • Mountains on the Earth

    The different landscapes that we analysed in the previous section are distributed...

  • Different plains

    In South America plains are different from North to South...

  • 16 May 2011

    Rock glaciers

    In the mountains, also in our Alps, in detrital screes...