In the earth sciences and geology sub-fields a landform or physical feature comprises a geomorphological unit, and is largely defined by its surface form and location in the landscape, as part of the terrain, and as such, is typically an element of topography. Landform elements also include seascape and oceanic waterbody interface features such as bays, peninsulas, seas and so forth, including sub-surface terrain features such as submersed mountain ranges, volcanoes, and the great ocean basins under the thin skin of water, for the whole earth is the province and domain of geology.

Physical characteristics

Landforms are categorised by characteristic physical attributes such as elevation, slope, orientation, stratification, rock exposure, and soil type.

Gross "physical features or landforms" include intuitive elements such as berms, mounds, hills, ridges, cliffs, valleys, rivers, peninsulas and numerous other structural and size-scaled (i.e. Ponds vs. Lakes, hills vs. mountains) elements including various kinds of inland and oceanic waterbodies and sub-surface features.

Hierarchy of classes

Oceans and continents exemplify the highest-order landforms. Landform elements are parts of a high-order landforms that can be further identified and systematically given a cohesive definition such as hill-tops, shoulders, saddles, foreslopes and backslopes.

Some generic landform elements are: pits, peaks, channels, ridges, passes, pools, plains; these can be often extracted from a digital elevation model using some automated techniques [cite web
title=Conference paper: "Automated landform classification using DEMs"
author=Robert A. MacMillan, David H. McNabb, R. Keith Jones|date=September, 2000|
] where the data (various kinds) has been gathered by modern satellites and stereoscopic aerial surveillance cameras. Until recently, compiling the data found in such data sets required time consuming and expensive techniques of "Boots on the ground" at many man-hours. Terrain (or relief) is the third or vertical dimension of land surface. Topography is the study of terrain, although the word is often used as a synonym for relief itself. When relief is described underwater, the term bathymetry is used. In cartography, many different techniques are used to describe relief, including contour lines.

Elementary landforms (segments, facets, relief units) are the smallest homogeneous divisions of the land surface, at the given scale/resolution. These are areas with relatively homogenous morphometric properties, bounded by lines of discontinuity. A plateau or a hill can be observed at various scales ranging from few hundred meters to hundreds of kilometers. Hence, the spatial distribution of landforms is often scale-dependent as is the case for soils and geological strata.

A number of factors, ranging from plate tectonics to erosion and deposition, can generate and affect landforms. Biological factors can also influence landforms— for example, note the role of vegetation in the development of dune systems and salt marshes, and the work of corals and algae in the formation of coral reefs.

Landforms do not include man-made features, such as canals, ports and many harbors; and geographic features, such as deserts, forests, grasslands, and impact craters.

Many of the terms are not restricted to refer to features of the planet Earth, and can be used to describe surface features of other planets and similar objects in the Universe.

List of landforms


*cinder cone
*volcanic craters (not impact craters)
*lava dome
*lava flow & lava plain
*mid-ocean ridge
*oceanic trench
*pit crater
*volcanic field
*volcanic island
*volcano, shield volcano, mud volcano & composite volcano (or stratovolcano, supervolcano)

ee also



External links

* [ Landform Design]

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  • landform —    Any physical, recognizable form or feature on the earth s surface, having a characteristic shape, internal composition, and produced by natural causes; a distinct individual produced by a set of processes. Landforms can span a large size (e.g …   Glossary of landform and geologic terms

  • landform — (n.) 1893; see LAND (Cf. land) (n.) + FORM (Cf. form) (n.). Perhaps immediately from Ger. Landform …   Etymology dictionary

  • landform — ► NOUN ▪ a natural feature of the earth s surface …   English terms dictionary

  • landform — [land′fôrm΄] n. any topographic feature on the earth s surface, as a plain, valley, hill, etc., caused by erosion, sedimentation, or movement …   English World dictionary

  • landform — /land fawrm /, n. Geol. a specific geomorphic feature on the surface of the earth, ranging from large scale features such as plains, plateaus, and mountains to minor features such as hills, valleys, and alluvial fans. [1890 95; LAND + FORM] * * * …   Universalium

  • landform — UK [ˈlæn(d)ˌfɔː(r)m] / US [ˈlændˌfɔrm] noun [countable] Word forms landform : singular landform plural landforms a feature on the Earth s surface such as a mountain or a valley …   English dictionary

  • landform — [[t]læ̱ndfɔrm[/t]] landforms also land form N COUNT A landform is any natural feature of the Earth s surface, such as a hill, a lake, or a beach. This small country has an amazing variety of landforms. ...glacial land forms …   English dictionary

  • landform — noun Date: 1893 a natural feature of a land surface …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Landform — Als Landformen oder Geländeform (auch Geländeformation, Erdform) werden in den Geowissenschaften die typischen Ausprägungen der regionalen Landschaft und des lokalen Geländes bezeichnet, wie sie je nach geologischen und geophysikalischen… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • landform — noun /ˈlænd.fɔːm,ˈlænd.fɔɹm/ Any geological feature, such as a mountain or valley …   Wiktionary

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