Factors and shape

The Earth’s crust is affected by tectonic movements that hit continents, close oceans, build mountains and make the Earth’s surface less uniform.
In fact there are regions with very high mountains, while others are characterized by deep depressions, like ocean trenches.
The creation of a mountain or creasing of the Earth’s surface is due to factors that act from inside the earth and are called endogenous agents. During the years, mountains and hills are eroded: slopes become less inclined while rock debris are deposited on the most depressed areas (sedimentary basins). This erosive action occurs continuously as a consequence of exogenous agents.
The shape and the characteristics of a landscape derive from its structure (rocks and minerals it consists of), the processes that shape the structure and the length of time a specific process takes to act on it. But it is necessary to consider the activities that men carried out on the territory, modifying its shape and characteristics and contributing to the creation of anthropic landscapes, “humanized”, to be distinguished from the natural ones. Anthropic landscapes, in fact, represent the historical result of human culture and activities on nature.

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...