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Ethiopian Plateau
Ethiopian Plateau.

Where the uplifted surface lay in ~ a low elevation for a very long time and was covered by resistant sedimentary rock, the flatness of the plateau deserve to be specifically marked. The rock underlying the Colorado Plateau has undergone only really mild deformation since about 1.7 billion years ago during Precambrian time (4.6 billion to 541 million years ago), and also layers of an extremely resistant limestone and sandstone deposited during the Paleozoic Era (541 million to 252 million years ago) type its peak surface in plenty of areas. The warming the the basic lithosphere in so late Cenozoic time (66 million years back to the present) resulted in that area to increase to its present elevation, and those erosion-resistant formations date to Paleozoic time specify the surfaces that make the remarkably level horizons in ~ the grand Canyon.

The good heights of some plateaus, such together the Plateau of Tibet or the Altiplano, are as result of crustal shortening. The geologic framework of plateaus that that kind is entirely various from that of the Colorado Plateau, for instance. Crustal shortening, which thickens the late as explained above, has produced high hills along what are currently the spare of together plateaus. In many mountain ranges, streams and rivers carry eroded product from the mountains to the adjoining plains. As soon as drainage is internal and also streams and rivers deposit your debris in the valleys in between mountains, however, a plateau have the right to form. The surface of this type of plateau is defined by really flat, large valleys surrounded by eroded hills and mountains. The rocks that consist of the mountains and also the basement of the valleys are regularly strongly deformed, but the young sediment deposited in the valleys usually lies flat. Those plateaus usually survive erosion only in dried climates where erosion is slow. In countless cases, the valleys, or basins, are occupied by flat dry lake beds (playas). Thus, plateaus developed by crustal shortening space really hill ranges buried in their own debris.

Plateau that Tibet
Southern Plateau that Tibet, China, close to Mount Everest (background centre).

A third type of plateau can form where extensive lava flows (called flood basalts or traps) and also volcanic ash bury preexisting terrain, as exemplified through the Columbia Plateau in the northwestern unified States. The volcanism connected in such instances is commonly linked with warm spots. The lavas and also ash space generally lugged long ranges from their sources, so that the topography is not overcame by volcanoes or volcano centres. The thickness of the volcano rock have the right to be 10s to also hundreds of metres, and also the peak surface of overwhelming basalts is typically really flat however often with sharply incised canyons and valleys.

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The separation that plateaus into the over three species is not always easy, due to the fact that two or even all three of the processes connected frequently run simultaneously. Because that instance, wherein the uppermost mantle is specifically hot, volcanism is common. The Ethiopian Plateau, on i beg your pardon Precambrian rocks chop out, stand high due to the fact that the basic lithosphere has actually been heated, but Cenozoic volcanic rocks cover lot of the plateau, specifically those areas that space the flattest. Back the range is different, there are active volcanoes and young lavas spanning some large basins ~ above the northern part of the Plateau that Tibet. All 3 processes—thermal expansion, crustal shortening, and also volcanism—may have contributed to the high, flat elevation of at least component of the plateau.