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Evolution of Landforms

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The evolution of landforms refers to the different processes of transformation of one landform to the next, or the transformations of individual landforms once they are formulated. A landform goes through various stages of development- which are youth, maturity, and old age.

Erosion and deposition are the two important parts of the evolution of landforms and the geomorphic processes are unavoidable. and usually takes place slowly and over a long duration. The evolution depends on the geomorphic agents which include groundwater, glaciers, waves, and winds. Both the processes of erosion and deposition change the surface of the earth.



Landforms and their Evolution

The outer part of the earth surrounded by the outer and upper mantle is called the lithosphere. It consists of several plates known as lithospheric plates. The plates move at regular intervals of several millimeters following the circular outgrowth of liquid magma inside the earth. As the lithospheric plates move, it causes changes in the world’s surface and leads to different landforms. The lithosphere plates are unpredictable and inflexible.

The Outer World consists of a few giant plates and a few small inflexible plates that form discretely with the continents and seafloor, known as the lithosphere. These plates quietly move a few millimeters each year due to the growth of liquid magma inside the earth. Developments on the earth are isolated according to the powers that cause them:

  • Endogenous Powers: Forces operating within the earth.
  • Exogenous Powers: Power acting over the outer layer of the earth.

Read More: Difference Between Exogenic and Endogenic Forces

Geomorphology is the actual elements framed on the surface of the world. These include mountains, levels, and fields. Because normal cycles occur as often as water, and dirt decomposes, there is a constant change like the earth. However, the formation of these terrestrial reliefs did not happen suddenly but took millennia. Basically, the topography of the world starts from the regular topographic cycles.

Running Water

Running water refers to the geomorphic agent which is mostly taken into account for the process of degradation of land surface. Running water can exist in different physical locations. from streams, rivers in valleys, or forms of overland flow on the general land surface in the form of a sheet.

Youthful rivers which flow over steep slopes mostly are responsible for erosional landforms. Overland flows also lead to the formation of sheet erosion. And during the early stages, there is down cutting which comes to dominate.

Characteristics of Stages of Landscape Development by Running Water Regimes

Youth or Mountain stage

Likewise called the mountain stage. The speed and speed of the stream are extremely high in light of the fact that the slant is steep. Vertical disintegration happens and V-molded valleys are shaped here.
Streams are not many during this stage with the unfortunate mix. The valleys have no floodplains or limited flood fields along trunk streams. Stream partitions are expansive and level with bogs, marshes, and lakes. Cascades and rapids might exist where neighborhood hard rock bodies are uncovered.

Mature or Middle Stage

In this stage, vertical disintegration gradually begins to supplant with sidelong disintegration or disintegration from the two sides of the channel. In this way, the stream channel causes the progressive vanishing of its V-molded valley (not totally). Streams are a lot at this stage with a great mix. More extensive flood fields start to apparent in this course and the volume of water increments with the juncture of numerous feeders. Crafted by stream overwhelmingly becomes transportation of the dissolved materials from the upper course (little statement as well). Landforms like alluvial fans, piedmont alluvial fields, wanders, and so on should be visible at this stage.

Old or Lower Stage

Streams wander openly over tremendous floodplains showing normal levees, bull bow lakes, and so on. Isolates are expansive with bogs, swamps, and lakes. The profundity of the stream is shallow here. The greater part of the scene is at or somewhat above ocean level. 

Erosional Landforms

Following that are some of the major erosional landforms, which are part of the evolution of the landform:


The valleys made by waterways are erosional landforms. Little and tight rivulets steadily form into long and wide gorges; these crevasses further extend, broaden and stretch to lead to valleys. Contingent on aspects and shape, there are different kinds of valleys like V-molded valleys, ravines, and chasms.

  1. Gorge- Gorge formation is due to the active down-cutting of the valleys and the gorge refers to a deep and narrow river valley that has steep slopes.
  2. Canyon- A canyon is mostly characterized by steep step-like side slopes and can be as deep as a gorge. A canyon is characterized as wider at the top than at its bottom.
  3. V-Shaped Valley- With the presence of a deep slope and large volume of water, the river cuts its bed in a vertical position for the formation of narrow and deep river valleys.

Angular Valley

Due to the precarious incline and huge volume of water, the stream cuts its bed upward framing a tight and profound waterway valley. This is known as an angular valley.


Small melancholy in the rough beds of the stream valleys is called potholes. They are round and hollow in shape. Potholes are for the most part shaped in coarse-grained shakes like sandstones and rocks.

Plunge Pool

It is a profound sorrow in a stream bed at the foundation of a cascade. It is made by erosional powers of falling water at the foundation of a cascade.

Incised or Entrenched Meanders

Streams streaming over gentler slants go through dynamic horizontal disintegration and foster twisted or wandering courses. Wandering is normally found over floodplains and delta fields where inclines are delicate. Yet, extremely profound and wide wanders can likewise be tracked down and cut in hard shakes. Such wanders are called chiseled or dug-in wanders.

River Terraces

The thin step-like level surfaces on one or the other side of the valley floor are called stream porches. They address the degree of previous valley floors.

Depositional Landforms

The major depositional landforms are as per the following:

Alluvial fans

Alluvial fans are much of the time found at the foot of mountain ranges. At the point when the streams stream over uneven slants, they for the most part convey an exceptionally coarse burden. This heap is excessively weighty for the streams to be persisted gentler inclines and gets kept as a wide low to high cone-molded store known as an alluvial fan. An alluvial fan can be characterized as a fan-molded store of rock, sand, and other more modest particles of dregs.


Dissimilar to alluvial fans, the stores making up deltas are very much arranged with a clear definition. The coarsest materials settle first and the better ones like dirt and sediments are done into the ocean.


Floodplain is one of the major types of landforms of river deposition and stretches from the bank of its channel to the base for enclosing valley walls the river bed is made of river deposits and is an active floodplain, which lies above the bank is an inactive type of floodplain.

Natural Leeves and Point Bars

Both natural leeves and point bars come to be associated with floodplains and natural leeves are formed along the banks of large rivers. The natural leeves and point bars are linear, low, and also parallel ridges that have coarse deposits along river banks. Point bars are also referred to as meanders.


Meanders refer to the loop-like channel patterns which are known as meanders, which are developed over flood and also delta plains, and meanders refer to a type of channel pattern. Meanders result due to erosional as well as depositional processes in the middle as well as the lower course of a river. The formation of meanders is due to water flowing over gentler slopes having a tendency to work on lateral banks. The Coriolis force acts on the level of fluid water, which deflects the wind. As the meanders tend to grow into deeper loops, they cut off with the erosion at inflection points which results in the formation of oxbow lakes.

Meander of a River

Meander of a river


In this part, we examine the job of groundwater in the disintegration of bodies of land and the development of landforms.

  1. The consequence of crafted groundwater shouldn’t be visible in that frame of mind of rocks. Physical or mechanical evacuation of materials by moving groundwater is irrelevant in creating landforms.
  2. In rocks like dolomite, and limestone which are wealthy in calcium carbonate, the groundwater as well as surface water through the synthetic activity of arrangement and precipitation statement structure assortments of landforms. The cycles of arrangement and affidavit are dynamic on limestones or dolomites which happen either solely or interbedded with different rocks.
  3. Any limestone, dolomite, or gypsum locale showing common landforms created by the activity of groundwater through the course of arrangement and affidavit is called Karst geology after the average geography created in the limestone rock of the Karst area in the Balkans nearby the Adriatic Ocean. The Karst geology is described by erosional and depositional landforms.

Erosional Landforms due to Groundwater

Some important types of erosional landforms formed due to the action of groundwater include:

  1. Sinkhole
  2. Doline/ Collapse sinks
  3. Uvala 
  4. Lappies
  5. Caves

Depositional Lanforms due to Groundwater

Depositional landforms which are formed due to groundwater are as follows:

  1. Stalactite
  2. Stalagmite


The term ice sheet comes from the French word “glace” important ice. A glacial mass is an enormous mass of ice moving as sheets. At the point when the ice sheets move over the land, it is known as a mainland icy mass, and in the event that a tremendous sheet of ice is spread over the fields at the foot of mountains, it is known as a Piedmont glacial mass. The mountain and valley glacial masses stream down the slants of mountains in an expansive box-like valley. The development of glacial masses is predominantly because of gravitational power. The development of ice sheets is slow, it very well may be a couple of centimeters to a couple of meters a day or even less or more.

Erosional Landforms Due to Glaciers

The erosional landforms which are formed due to Glaciers are as follows:

  1. Cirques
  2. Horns and Aretes
  3. Glacial Valleys/ Troughs

Depositional Landforms Due to Glaciers

The depositional landforms which are formed due to glaciers are as follows:

  1. Moraines
  2. Eskers
  3. Outwash Plains
  4. Drumlins

Waves and Currents

Coastal processes refer to those dynamic and also most destructive. Changes that occur on the coast are because of the waves. The constant impact of the breaking of the waves would affect the coasts and the tsunami waves may cause far-reaching changes in a short span of time. The coastal landforms also depend on:

  1. Configuration of land as well as seafloor
  2. Whether the coast is advancing or retreating landward

Erosional Landforms

Erosional landforms are of the following types for waves and currents:

  1. Wave-cut cliffs
  2. Terraces

Depositional Landforms

Depositional landforms are of the following types for waves and currents:

  1. Beach
  2. Bars
  3. Barrier Bar
  4. Spits
  5. Lagoon
  6. Tombolo
Depositional Landforms

Depositional Landforms


The wind is one of the most important and main geomorphic agents in the case of arid areas. Winds cause deflation, and abrasion, and also impact  The drastic changes in the temperature lead to rocks that are without vegetation, and chemical and mechanical weathering.

Erosional Landforms due to Wind

Erosional landforms due to wind are as follows:

  1. Pediplains
  2. Mushroom, Table, and Pedestal Rocks
  3. Deflation hollows
  4. Pleyas

Depositional Landforms Due to Wind

The kinds of depositional landforms due to wind are as follows:

  1. Barchans
  2. Parabolic dunes
  3. Seif Dunes
  4. Longitudinal Dunes
  5. Transverse Dunes
Types of Sand dunes

Types of Sand Dunes

Related Links

  1. What are the four realms of the Earth?
  2. Why is the Earth called a unique planet?
  3. How are minerals formed in Sedimentary Rocks?
  4. Volcanic Landforms: Extrusive and Intrusive
  5. What is Geothermal Energy?
  6. Difference between Exogenic and Endogenic Forces

FAQs on Landforms and their Evolution

Q1. What is the evolution of landforms in geography?


In geography, evolution of landforms refers to as the continuous and gradual process of development and change of the physical features of the surface of the Earth over the time. Weathering, volcanic activities, erosion, tectonic movement, and glaciation, all the natural processes can contribute to this process.

Q2. How did the landforms develop?


Structural plate development under the Earth can make landforms by pushing up mountains and slopes. Disintegration by water and wind can wear out land and make landforms like valleys and gorges. The two cycles occur over an extensive stretch of time, in some cases a long period of time.

Q3. What is the study of landforms and their evolution?


The study of landforms and their evolution is known as geomorphology.

Q4. How do landforms structure and change after some time?


The Earth’s surface is continually changing through powers in nature. The day-to-day cycles of precipitation, wind, and land development bring about changes to landforms over an extensive stretch of time. Main thrusts incorporate disintegration, volcanoes, and tremors. Individuals additionally add to changes in the presence of land.

Q5. For what reason are landforms significant?


Landforms assume a basic part in existence, everything being equal. They influence where individuals decide to reside, the food varieties they can grow, a locale’s social history, cultural turn of events, design decisions, and building improvement. They even impact where military destinations work best to safeguard a locale.

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Last Updated : 13 May, 2023
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