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1 Basic Concepts (Geomorphology)

2 Earth Interior

3 Important Geographical Phenomenon

4 Important Geographical Phenomenon - 2

5 Important Geographical Phenomenon - 3

6 Erosion And Deposition

7 Landform

8 Groundwater

9 Low Sedimentary Coasts

10 Climatology

11 Solar Radiation

12 Atmospheric Circulation And Weather Systems

13 Seasonal Wind

14 Atmospheric Humidity And Condensation


Basic Concepts
Crust The outermost layer, or shell, of the earth (or any other differentiated) planet. Earths crust is generally
defined as the part of the Earth above the Mohorovivic discontinuity. It represents less than one per cent of
Earths total.
Mantle The zone of earths interior between the base line of the crust (the Mohorovivic (Moho)
discontinuity) and the core. The mantle has an average density of about 3.3g/cm and accounts for about 68 per
cent of earths mass. The mantle lies between the crust and the core of the earth. The lower layers of mantle are
floored by the Gutenberg discontinuity.
Core The central part of the earth below the depth of 2900 Km.
Mohorovivic (Moho) Discontinuity The first global seismic discontinuity below the surface of the Earth. It
lies at a depth varying from about 5 to 10 km beneath the ocean floor to about 35 km beneath the continents,
commonly referred to as the Moho.
Vulcanicity The movement of magma, both into earths crust (intrusion) and onto Earths surface.
Magma A mobile silicate melt, which can contain suspended crystals and dissolved gasses as well as liquid.
Silicate (silicate minerals) A mineral containing silicon oxygen tetrahedral, in which four oxygen atoms
surround each silicon.
Seismology It is the science which study various aspect of seismic waves, generated during the occurrence
Seismic waves The different types of tremors and waves generated during the occurrence of an earth quake
are called seismic waves.
Seismograph Seismic waves are recorded with the help of an instrument known as seismograph.
Sial A general term for the silica rich rocks that form the continental masses.
Sima - A general term for the magnesium rich igneous rocks (basalt, gabbro and peridotite) of the ocean
Nife It is located just below sima layer.this layer is composed of nickel (NI) and ferrium (Fe).
Lithosphere It is having thickness of about 100 km is mostly composed of granites. Silica and aluminium are
dominant constituents. Average density is 3.5.
Pyrosphere It stretches for a thickness of 2780 km having an average density of 5.6. The dominant rock is

Continent - A large landmass, from 20 to 60 km thick, composed mostly of granitic rock. Continents rise
abruptly above the deep ocean floor and include the marginal areas submerged beneath sea level. Examples
the African continent, the Asiatic continent, the North American and South American continent, etc.
Basin A depression into which the surrounding area drains.
Plate- The rigid lithospheric slabs or rigid and solid crustal layers are tectonically called plates.
Plate tectonics The whole mechanism of the evolution, nature and motion of plates and resultant reaction.
Constructive plate margins- these are also called as divergent plate margins or accreting plate margins.
Constructive plate margins (boundaries) represents zones of divergence where her is continues upwelling of
molten materials (lava) and new oceanic crust is continuously formed.
Destructive Plate margins these are also called as consuming plate margins or convergent plate margin
because two plates move towards each other or two plates converge along a line and leading edge of one plate
overrides the other plate and the overridden pate is subducted or thrust into the mantle and thus part of the crust
(plate) is lost in the mantle.
Sea floor spreading The theory of that the sea floor spreads laterally away from the oceanic ridge as new
lithosphere is created along the crest of the ridge by igneous activity.
Pangaea - About 700million years ago all the land masses were united together in the form of one single giant
land mass known as Pangaea.
Isostasy The continental crust of earth has a visible part above the surface and lower, in visible one. The
balance between these two is Isostasy. If part of the upper surface is removed by erosion, the continental crust
will rise to offset this erosion, at least in part. Section of the continental crust have been pushed down by the
weight of glacial ice, the extent of depression varying with the thickness of ice, and the density of the material
It is believed that the critical size for an ice cap to depress a landmass is a 500km diameter. Landmass will rise
again if the ice melts.


Endogenetic forces the forces coming from within the earth are called as Endogenetic forces which cause
two types of movement in the earth viz (i) Horizontal movement and (ii) vertical movement
Exogenetic forces it applies to the processes which occur at or near the earths surface.
Folds Wave like bands are formed in the crustal rocks due tangential compressive force resulting from m
horizontal movement caused by the Endogenetic force originating deep within the earth. Such bands are called
Faults - A fault is a fracture in the crustal rocks wherein the rocks are displaced along a plane called as fault
Plate tectonics the study of whole mechanism of evolution, nature and motion of plates, deformation within
plates and interaction of plate margin with each other is collectively called as plate tectonics.
Volcano A land form at the end of a conduit or pipe which rises from the below the crust and vents to the
surface. Magma rises and collect in a magma chamber deep below, resulting in eruptions that are effusive or
explosive forming the mountain/plateau landform.

1. Mountain A general term for any land mass that stands above its surrounding. In the stricter geological
sense, a mountain belt is a highly deformed part of the earths crust that has been injected with igneous intrusion and
the deeper part of which have been metamorphosed. The topography of Young Mountain is high, but erosion can
reduce Old Mountain to flat low land.
2. Geosyncline A subsiding part of the lithosphere in which thousands of metres of sediment accumulate.

Weathering the process of disintegration and decomposition of rocks in situ, its a static process.
Mass Movement (mass wasting) Disintegrated and fragmented rock materials due to mechanism of
weathering process (mechanical, chemical, biotic and biochemical).
Landslide a general term for relatively rapid types of mass movement such as debris flows, debris slides,
rockslide, and slumps.
Slump It involves intermittent sliding of rock fragments, rock blocks or soil down slope along a curve plane
caused by rotational movement and displaced blocks (whether rocks blocks or soil blocks) cover very short
Rock slide its most significant of all types of slides wherein large rock blocks slide down the hillslope.
Creep very slow and imperceptible movement of materials (colluviums) is called creep.

1. Erosion the processes that loosen sediment and move it from one place to another on earths surface. Agents
of erosion include running water, ice, wind, sea waves , underground water, and gravity.
2. Denudation A general term that refers to all processes that cause degradation of the landscape weathering,
mass movement, erosion, and transport.

1. Drainage An integrated system of tributaries and trunk stream, which collect and funnel surface water to the
sea, a lake, or some other body of water.
2. Stream long, narrow body of flowing water occupying a stream channel and moving to lower levels under
the force of gravity.
3. Drainage pattern the drainage pattern means the form (geometrical forms) of the drainage system and the
spatial arrangements of streams in a particular locality or regions.

Fluvial - Pertaining to river or rivers

Fluvial landforms the landforms either carved out (due to erosion) or built up (due to deposition) by running
Surface runoff The rainwater reaching the earths surface becomes surface runoff when it spreads laterally
on the ground surface.
Solution or corrosion It involves the dissolution of soluble materials through the process of disintegration
and decomposition of carbonate rocks.
River meanders It refers to the bands of longitudinal courses of the rivers.
Ox bow lakes The lakes formed due to impounding of water in the abandoned meander loops are called ox
bow or horse shoe lakes.
Peneplains It represents featureless plain having undulating surface and remnants of convexo concave
residual hills.
Delta the depositional feature of almost triangular shape at the mouth of river debouching either in a lake or a
sea is called delta.

Regolith The blanket of soil and loose rock fragment overlying the bedrock
Groundwater The water present in the pore spaces of regolith and bedrocks (those rocks which have not
been weathered and eroded) below the ground surface.
Aquifers - A permeable stratum or zone below the earths surface through groundwater moves.
Ponores The vertical pipe like chasms or passages that connect the caves and the swallow holes are called

Swell The regular pattern of smooth rounded waves that characterizes the surface of ocean during fair
Wavelength The straight horizontal distance between two successive crests or through.
Swash or uprush The turbulent water, known as swash or uprush rushes shoreward with great velocity and
Plungeline The distance from the shore where the waves break is called plungeline, where the depth of
seawater and the wave height is approximately equal.
Surf The turbulent forward moving swash or breaker.
Hydraulic action It refers to the impact of moving water on coastal rocks.
Cliffs - Steep rocky coast rising almost vertically above sea water is called sea cliff, which is very precipitous,
with overhanging creast.
Wave cut platform Rock cut flat surface in front of cliffs they are also known as shore platform, which are
slightly concave upward.
Beaches Temporary or short lived deposits of marine sediment consisting of sands, shingles, cobbles etc.
On the sea shore.
Bars The ridges, embankments or mounds of sand formed by sedimentation through sea waves parallel to the
shore line.
Barriers The larger forms of bars.

Ergs The deserts having mobile sands, Arabic word erg means shifting sands
Attrition It involves mechanical tear and wear of the particle suffered by themselves, while they are being
transported by wind through the processes of saltation, and surface creep
Saltation It involves the movement of sand and gravels through the mechanisms bouncing, jumping and
hopping by turbulent air flow.
Mushroom rocks The rocks having broad upper part and narrow base resembling an umbrella or
Inselbergs These are very controversial landforms , this is a German word, was used by Passarge in 1904 to
indicate sharply rising residual hill above the flat surfaces in South Africa.
Zeugen Rock masses of tabular form resembling a capped inkpot standing on softer rock, pedestal shale,
mudstone etc.
Yardangs These are steep sided deeply undercut overhanging rock ridges separated from one another by long
groups corridors or passage ways cut in desert floors relatively softer rocks
Loess It is the example of most significant windblown deposits. Loess (German term loess meaning there by
fine loam, loose or unconsolidated materials) represents thick deposits of unstratified, non indurated, buff-
coloured, well sorted, fine grained sediments consisting of quartz silt
Badland topography -The regions of weak sedimentary formation are extensively eroded by numerous rills
and channels which are occasionally developed due to occasional rain storms.

Introduction -
The earth is the only known planet where life is possible
Earth is spherical in shape, hot water and molten lava eject out from earths interior
Worlds deepest mining is limited only to the depth of less than 5 km as the temperature below earth is very
The interior of the earth
Because of huge size and changing nature of its internal composition, its not possible to make direct
We have limited information of earths interior, through mining and drilling operation , its so hot that it can
even melt any tool for drilling.

The innermost layer surrounding the earth surface is called core.

Core is the densest layer of the earth with its density more than 11.0.
It is composed mainly of iron and nickel thus known as Nife.
Core consist of two sub layers, the inner one is solid (C2) and the outer one is semi liquid (C1)
The layer surrounding the core is mantle, is composed of basic silicates.
Major constituent of mantle are magnesium and silicon, hence its also known as Sima (Silica+Magnesium).
Its density varies from 3.1 to 5.1 and surrounded by the outermost layer of the earth, known as lithosphere and
its density varies from 2.75 to 2.90.
Major constituent elements of lithosphere are silica (Si) and aluminium (Al), it is also known as Sial.
The outermost part of lithosphere is known as crust.

1. Artificial sources
2. Natural sources
3. Evidence from the theories of the origin of earth
We can know about the interior of the earth with the help of following sources
It increases with the depth, as observed in the mines and deep wells
The molten lava erupted from the earths interior also support this fact.
Its not uniform from the surface towards the earths centre, in beginning its increases at an average rate of 1
degree Celsius for every 32 meters increase in depth.
With such a speed it will be 300 degree celcius at a depth of 10 km, and 1200 degree celcius at 40 km.
But its interior is not in molten state, because rocks buried under the pressure of several km thicknesses of
overlying rocks melt at higher temperature
Than similar rock on the surface, a basaltic lava rock which will melt at 1250 degree celcius at surface, will
take 1400 degree celcius at 32 km of depth.
So from where we get extra heat
It is being produced by radioactivity, as the result of breakdown of atomic nuclei of minerals emitting radiant energy
from in the form of heat from the rocks.
It also increases from the surface towards the centre of the earth due to huge weight of overlying rocks.
In deeper portion pressure is tremendously high, its 3 to 4 million times near centre as compared with the
pressure of atmosphere at sea level.
Due to high pressure the molten material beneath earth acquires the property of a solid and is probably in
plastic state.
It increases due to increase in pressure and presence of heavier materials towards the earths centre
The outermost layer is composed of sedimentary rock; thickness varies from (0.8km to 1.6 km)
The second layer is of crystalline rocks, the density of which ranges from 3.0 to 3.5 at different places.
The average density of earth is about 5.5, so without doubt we can say that it will be more than 5.5 at the core.

We can know about the interior of the earth with the help of following sources
Seismology (EQ waves)

On the basis of upwelling of and spread of hot and liquid lava on the earth surface during volcanic eruption, we
can say that there is such a layer which is in liquid state.
Such molten chamber has been termed as magma chamber which supplies magma and lava during volcanic

The place of the occurrence of earth quake is called focus, and place which experiences the seismic evens first
called epicentre.
It is located on the earths surface and is always perpendicular to the focus.
The focus is always inside the earth, the deepest focus has been measured at the depth of 700km from the
earths surface.
There are three broad categories of seismic waves
Primary waves
1. Longitudinal or compressional waves or P waves, are analogous to sound waves, particles move both to and fro
from the line of the propagation of the ray.
2. It travels with fastest speed through solid materials.
Secondary waves
Also called transverse waves or distortional wave or simply S waves.
These are analogous to water ripples or light waves, wherein the particles move at right angles to the rays.
It cannot pass through liquid materials
Surface waves
Also called long period waves or simply L waves. These waves generally affects surface of earth and die out at
smaller depth.
This wave covers longest distances of all the seismic waves.
Their speed is slower than P and S waves but these are most violent and destructive.

So we can say that the nature and properties of the composition of the interior of the earth may be successfully
obtained on the basis of the study of these waves.
The main aspects such as velocity and travel paths of these waves passing through a homogeneous solid body.
But these waves reflect or refract while passing through a body having heterogeneous composition
In reality the recorded seismic waves denote the fact that these waves seldom follow the straight line paths.
Thus it become clear that earth is not made of homogenous materials rather there is variation of density inside
the earth

Several attempts to explain the origin and evolution of the continent and ocean basin have been registered, the
scientifically recognized are
1. Planetesimal hypothesis
2. Tidal hypothesis
3. Nebular hypothesis
Planetesimal hypothesis
1. The earth was originated due to accretion and aggregation of solid dust particles.
2. Based on this corollary the core of the earth should in a solid state
Tidal hypothesis
1. The core of the earth should be in liquid state.
2. According to this the earth have been formed from the tidal material ejected from the primitive sun
Nebular hypothesis
1. It was coined by Laplace, and according to this theory the core of the earth should be in the gaseous state.
But from the above discussion we have already proved that these hypothesis have no place in current scenario, and now
we have solid evidence to prove earths origin.

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In order to understand important geographical phenomenon of geography, as per the syllabus of GS it is

necessary to understand the origin of continents and ocean basins.
Continent and ocean basins are fundamental relief feature of the globe.
They are considered as relief features of the first order, and different theories regarding the origin of the
continents and oceans are being put forth by the scientists.
About 70.8 percent of the total surface area of the globe is represented by the oceans and
29.2 are represented by the continents.
Distributional pattern of the continents and ocean basins
There is overwhelming dominance of land areas in the northern hemisphere; more than 75% of total globe is
situated to the north of the equator.
Continents are arranged in roughly triangular shape; most have their bases (of triangle) in the north while their
apices are pointed towards south.
The oceans are also triangular in shape, contrary to the continents the base of oceans is in the south while their
apices are in the north.
The North Pole is surrounded by oceanic water, while South Pole is surrounded by land area (of the Antarctic
There is antipodal situation of continents and oceans, only 44.6 percent oceans are situated opposite to oceans.
1.4 percent of the total land area of the globe is opposite to land area; more than 95% of the total land area is
situated opposite to water bodies.
The great Pacific Ocean basin occupies almost one third of the entire surface area of the globe.
The above mentioned characteristic would help us to validate the authenticity of any hypothesis or theory
dealing with the origin and evolution of the continents and ocean basins.
There are various hypotheses regarding the origin of the earth, but we would discuss the following one, they are
considered to be much more scientific.
1. Tetrahedral hypothesis postulated by Lowthian Green
2. Continental drift theory of Taylor
3. Plate tectonic theory
4. Sea floor spreading
1. It is based on the fundamental principles of geometry
2. Elie de Beaumont is considered to be first the attempted in this field
3. But the theory of Lowthain (in 1875) is most significant of all hypotheses based on geometric principles.
4. He based his hypothesis on the two basic principle of geometry

A sphere is that which contains the largest volume with respect to its surface area
surface area.
A tetrahedron is that body which contains the largest volume with respect to its

It is based on the characteristics of a tetrahedron which is a solid body having four equal plane surfaces.
Each of which is an equilateral triangle. He postulated it after considering the characteristics of the
distributional pattern of the land and water over the globe.
There is dominance of land area in the northern hemisphere and water areas in the southern hemisphere
Triangular shape of continent and oceans,
Situation of continuous ring of land around north polar sea and location of south pole in land area (Antarctica)
surrounded by water from all sides
Antipodal arrangement of continent and oceans
Largest extent of Pacific Ocean covering one third area of the globe
Location of chain folded mountains around Pacific Ocean.
According to him when earth was originated it was in sphere form
In the beginning earth was very hot but it gradually began to cool down due to loss of heat.
First the quarter part of the earth cooled down and thus was formed the crust but the inner part was continued to
cool down
Consequently the inner part of the earth was subjected to much more contraction, thus there was marked
reduction in the inner part of the earth.
Upper part of the earth (crust) was already cooled down, and could not be subjected to further contraction.
This resulted into possible gap between the upper and inner parts of the earth.
Consequently the upper part collapsed on the inner part and ultimately the earth began to assume the shape of a
He also clarified that due to structural variations; there may be some deviations from a true tetrahedron.
Four oceans (the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean and the Arctic Ocean) were created on
the four plane faces of the terrestrial tetrahedron.
These plane faces retain water because of the fact that these were lower than the level of the apices or coigns of
the terrestrial tetrahedron.

To major extent it successfully explains the characteristics feature of the distributional pattern of the present
day continents and ocean basin.
But because of certain basic defects and errors the theory is not acceptable to the modern scientific community.
It is argued that balance of the earth in the form of a tetrahedron while rotating on an apex cannot be
The earth rotating so rapidly on its axis that the spherical earth cannot be converted into a tetrahedron while
contracting on cooling.
This hypothesis believes more or less in the permanency of continents and ocean basins, while plate tectonic
theory has validated the concept of continental drift.
F.B .Taylor postulated his concept of horizontal displacement of the continents in 1908.
The main purpose of his hypothesis was to explain the problems of the origin of the folded mountains of
tertiary period.
The concept of Taylor is considered to be the first attempt in the field of continental drift, though Antonio
Snider presented his views about drift in the year 1858 in France.
Basic Assumption
According to him there were two land masses during Cretaceous period.
Lauratia and Gondwanaland were located near the north and south pole respectively.
The continent were made of sial which was practically absent in the oceanic crust.
Continent moved towards the equator, the main driving force of the continental drift was tidal force.
Continents were displaced in two ways:
1. Equator wards movement
2. Westward movement
Lauratia started moving away from the North Pole because of enormous tidal force of the moon towards the
equator in a radial manner.
This movement of landmass resulted into tensional force near the north pole which caused stretching, splitting
and rupture in landmass.
The displacement of the Gondwana land from the South Pole towards the equator caused splitting and
Arctic sea was formed between Greenland and Serbia due to earthward movement of Lauratia.
Atlantic and Indian Ocean were supposed to have been formed because of filling of gaps between the drifting
continents with water.
Taylor assumed that the landmasses began to move in the lobe form while drifting through the zones of lesser
Thus mountain and island arcs were formed in the frontal part of the moving lobes.
The Himalayas. Caucasus and Alps are considered to have been formed during equator ward movement of the
Lauratia and Gondwanaland from the north and south poles respectively
The Rockies and Andes formed due to westward movement of the landmasses.
Taylors main aim was to explain the origin of the tertiary folded mountains and hence he made the continents
to move at a very large scale.
He described displacement of the landmasses for thousands of kilometres, but displacement of landmasses up to
32-64 Km would have been sufficient enough for the purpose.
Tidal force was used as mode of displacement , if it was so enormous during cretaceous period that it could
displace the landmasses for thousands of kilometres
Apart then it might have also put a break on the rotatory motion of the earth and thus rotation of the earth might
have been stopped within a year.
Though the concept of F.B. Taylor is not acceptable but his hypothesis is considered to be significant on the
ground that
1. He raised his voice very forcefully through deductive postulation against the prevalent concept of the
permanency of the continents and ocean basins.
It was a great scientific achievement of the decade of 1960s; it is based on the two major scientific concepts
The concept of continental drift
The concept of sea floor spreading
Lithosphere is internally made of rigid plates (first used by Canadian geophysicist J.T. Wilson in 1965), six
major plates and 20 minor plates have been identified so far.
Six major plates are Eurasian plate, Indian Australian plate, American plate, Pacific plate, African plate and
Antarctic plate.
W.J.Morgan and Le Pichon elaborated the various aspects of plate tectonics in 1968
Now the continental drift and the displacement are considered a reality on the basis of plate tectonics.
Tectonic plate boundaries are most important because all tectonic activities occur along the plate margins.

Constructive plate margins

1. These are also called divergent plate margins or accreting plate margins.
2. It represents zone of divergence where there is continuous upwelling of molten material (lava) and thus new
oceanic crust is continuously formed.
Destructive plate margins
1. These are also called as consuming plate margins or convergent plate margins.
2. Two plates move towards each other or two plates converge along a line and leading edge of one plate
overrides the other plate.
3. The overridden plate is sub ducted or thrust into the mantle and thus part of the crust (plate) is lost in the
Conservative plate margins
1. These are also called as shear plate margins
2. Two plates pass or slide past one another along a transform faults and thus crust is neither created nor
1. H. Hess postulated the concept of plate tectonics in 1960, in support of continental drift.
2. The continents and ocean move with the movement of these plates.
3. The present shape and arrangement of continent and ocean basins could be attained because of continuous
movement of different plates.
4. Plate tectonic theory is based on the evidences of sea floor spreading and palaeomagnetism.
Propounded by the Harry Hess of the Princeton University in the year 1960.
He propounded that mid oceanic ridges were situated on the rising thermal convection currents, coming up
from the mantle.
The oceanic crust move in opposite directions from mid oceanic ridges.
This molten lava cool down and solidify to form new crust along the trailing ends of divergent plates (oceanic
Thus there is continuous creation of new crust along the mid oceanic ridges and the expanding crusts (plates)
are destroyed along the oceanic trenches.
These facts prove that continents and ocean basins are in constant motion.


Today we are going to discuss the forces affecting the crust of the earth, because these forces and resultant
movements are involved in the creation, destruction, recreation and maintenance of geomaterials.
The geological changes are generally of two types
Long period changes it is so slow that we are unable to notice it.
short- period changes these are noticed within few second to few hours (seismic events, volcanic eruptions,
The forces which affect the crust of the earth, are divided into two broad categories on the basis of their source
of origin
1. Endogenetic Forces
2. Exogenetic Forces


The forces coming from within the earth are called as endogenetic forces.
It causes two types of movements in the earth; (i) horizontal movements, (ii) vertical movements
There is lack of precise knowledge regarding the mode of origin of the endogenetic forces and movements.
On the basis of intensity, these are divided into two categories
1. Sudden forces
2. Diastrophic forces

Sudden forces
It causes rapid events and massive destruction at and below the earths surface.
These force work very quickly and there results are seen within minutes.
Its the result of long period preparation deep within the earth.
Because these forces create certain relief features on the earths surface, they are also termed as constructive
Diastrophic forces
These forces operate slowly and their effects become discernible after thousand and millions of years.
They affect larger areas of globe and produce meso level reliefs (e.g.) mountains, plateaus, plain, lakes, big
faults etc.)
It is divided into two groups
1. Epeirogenetic movements
2. Orogenetic movements


It is continent forming
Acts along the radius of earth, therefore also called radial movement
Direction may be towards (subsidence) or away (uplift) from the centre.
Results are seen in relief i.e. sea beaches (Kathiwar, Orissa), elevated wave cut terraces, sea caves.
Example of Emergence
1. Evidence of marine fossils above sea level in parts of Britain Norway is examples of epeirogenetic uplift
Example of Submergence
Downward movements cause subsidence of continental masses.
In 1819, Rann of Kachchh was submerged as a result of earthquake.

It means mountain building

It is caused due to endogenetic forces working in horizontal manner.
Thus these forces create rupture, cracks, fracture and faults in the crustal parts of the earth.
When these forces work face to face these are called compressional forces or convergent force.
It causes crustal bending leading to the formation of folds
The crustal rocks undergo the process of crustal bending in two ways
1. Wrapping
2. Folding
It affects the larger areas of the crust, wherein the crustal parts are either warped (raised) upward or downward.
When it affects larger areas, the resultant mechanism is called broad wrapping.
Waves like bands are formed in the crustal rocks due to tangential compressive force.
It is the result of horizontal movement caused by the endogenetic force
Some parts of bent are in upward direction, they are called anticlines, and they are upfolded rock strata in arch
like form.
The down folded structure forming through like features is called syncline.
Anticlinorium represents a folding structure, where extensive anticline having numerous minor anticline and
Synclinorium represents a folding structure, where extensive syncline having numerous minor anticline and
The two sides of folds are called limbs of the fold, the limb shared between anticline and syncline is called
middle limb.
The plain line which bisects the angle between the two limbs of the anticline or middle limb of the syncline is
called axis of foldor axial plane.
Its also necessary to understand dip and strike, in order to understand the structural form.
The inclination of rock beds with respect to horizontal plane is called dip.
The angle of dip is measured with an instrument called clinometers.
The strike of an inclined bed is the direction of any horizontal line along a bedding plane.
The direction of dip is always at right angle to the strike.

The elasticity of rocks largely affects the nature and the magnitude of folding process.
The softer and more elastic rocks are subjected to more intense folding, while rigid and less elastic rocks are
moderately folded.
Difference in intensity and magnitude of compressive forces also causes variations in the characteristics of
Normally both the limbs of folds are having equal limbs, but mostly they are not.
Based on the inclination of the limbs, folds are divided into five types.
1. Symmetrical folds The limbs (both) of which incline uniformly, compressive force work regularly with
moderate intensity.
2. Asymmetrical folds characterized by unequal and irregular limbs, both the limbs incline at different angles,
one limb is relatively larger than other.
3. Monoclinal folds one limb inclines moderately with regular slope, while other limb inclines steeply at right
angle and slope is almost vertical.
4. Isoclinal folds when both the limbs of fold become parallel but not horizontal.
5. Recumbent folds when the compressive forces are so strong that both the limbs of the fold become parallel
as well as horizontal.
6. The other types of fold are overturned fold (one limb of the fold is thrust upon another), plunge fold (when
axis of fold become tilted), fan fold (extensive and broad fold consisting of several minor anticline and
syncline), open folds (in which angle between the two limbs of the fold is more than 90 degree but less than
180 degree) and lastly closed folds (angle between two limbs of a fold is acute angle).
Nappes are the result of complex folding mechanism caused by intense horizontal movement and resultant
compressive force.
Both the limbs of a recumbent fold are parallel and horizontal.
Due to further increase in the continued compressive force one limb of the recumbent folds slides forward and
overrides the other fold.
This process is called thrust and plane along which one part of the fold is thrust is called thrust plane.
The upthrust part of the fold is called overthrust fold.


1. As we know that there are several factors behind folded structure, in the same way tensional and compressional
forces causes displacement of rock along a plane.
2. The force may be vertical or horizontal and sometime it may be in both ways.
3. These crustal fractures depend on the strength of rock and intensity of tensional force.
4. Fractures are divided into two parts
1. Faults
2. Joints
1. A fault is a fracture is a fracture in the crustal rocks, due to tensional movement caused by the endogenetic
forces, wherein the rocks are displaced along a plane, known as fault plane.
2. The movement responsible for the formation of a fault may operate in vertical or horizontal or any direction.
These are formed due to displacement of both the rocks blocks in opposite directions,
Due to fracture consequent upon greatest stress, the fault plane is usually between 45 degree and the vertical.

These are formed due to the movement of both the fractured rock blocks towards each other.
The fault plane, in a reverse direction is usually inclined at an angle between 40 degree and the horizontal
These are formed when the rocks blocks are displaced horizontally along the fault plane due to horizontal
When displacement of rock occurs to the left, they are called left lateral or sinistral fault.
When displacement of rock occur to the right , they are called right lateral fault or dextral fault.
1. When a series of faults occur in any area in such a way, that the slopes of all the fault planes of all the faults are in
same direction.

The Exogenetic forces or processes also called denudational processes or destructional

They are continuously engaged in the destruction of the relief features created by the endogenetic forces.
The exogenic processes derive their energy from atmosphere determined by the ultimate energy from the sun
and also the gradients created by tectonic factors.
Force applied per unit area is called stress.
Stress is produced in a solid by pushing or pulling. This induces deformation.
Forces acting along the faces of earth materials are shear stresses (separating forces).
It is this stress that breaks rocks and other earth materials.
The shear stresses result in angular displacement or slippage.
The gravitational stress earth materials become subjected to molecular stresses
Molecular stresses may be caused by a number of factors amongst which temperature changes, crystallisation
and melting are the most common
Chemical processes normally lead to loosening of bonds between grains, dissolving of soluble minerals or
cementing materials
The basic reason that leads to weathering, mass movements, erosion and deposition is DEVELOPMENT OF
As there are different climatic regions on the earths surface the exogenic geomorphic processes vary from
region to region.
Temperature and precipitation are the two important climatic elements that control various processes
All the exogenic geomorphic processes are covered under a general term, denudation
The word denude means to strip off or to uncover. Weathering, mass wasting/movements, erosion and
transportation are included in denudation.
Within different climatic regions there may be local variations of the effects of different climatic elements.
Due to altitudinal differences, aspect variations and the variation in the amount of insolation (amount of sun
rays) received by north and south facing slopes as compared to east and west facing slopes.
Differences in wind velocities and directions, amount and kind of precipitation, its intensity, the relation
between precipitation and evaporation, daily range of temperature, freezing and thawing frequency, depth of
frost penetration, the geomorphic processes vary within any climatic region.
Climatic factors being equal, the intensity of action of exogenic geomorphic processes depends upon type and
structure of rocks.
The term structure includes such aspects of rocks as folds, faults, orientation and inclination of beds.
Presence or absence of joints, bedding planes, hardness or softness of constituent minerals, chemical
susceptibility of mineral constituents.
Different types of rocks with differences in their structure offer varying resistances to various geomorphic
Under varying climatic conditions, particular rocks may exhibit different degrees of resistance to geomorphic
processes and hence they operate at differential rates.
The effects of most of the exogenic geomorphic processes are small and slow and may be imperceptible in a
short time span
Weathering is action of elements of weather and climate over earth materials.
There are a number of processes within weathering which act either individually or together to affect the earth
materials in order to reduce them to fragmental state.
Weathering is defined as mechanical disintegration and chemical decomposition of rocks through the actions of
various elements of weather and climate.
As very little or no motion of materials takes place in weathering, it is an in-situor on-site process.
Weathering processes are conditioned by many complex geological, climatic, topographic and vegetative
Climate is of particular importance.
There are three major groups of weathering processes
Biological weathering processes
Chemical weathering process
1. A group of weathering processes, include in this
2. They act on the rocks to decompose, dissolve or reduce them to a fine clastic state through chemical reactions
by oxygen, surface and/or soil water and other acids.
3. Water and air (oxygen and carbon dioxide) along with heat must be present to speed up all chemical reactions
4. Over and above the carbon dioxide present in the air, decomposition of plants and animals increases the
quantity of carbon dioxide underground.

When something is dissolved in water or acids, the water or acid with dissolved contents is called solution.
This process involves removal of solids in solution and depends upon solubility of a mineral in water or weak
This process involves removal of solids in solution and depends upon solubility of a mineral in water or weak
On coming in contact with water many solids disintegrate and mix up as suspension in water.
Soluble rock forming minerals like nitrates, sulphates, and potassium etc. are affected by this process.
So, these minerals are easily leached out without leaving any residue in rainy climates and accumulate in dry
Minerals like calcium carbonate and calcium magnesium bicarbonate present in limestones are soluble in water
containing carbonic acid (formed with the addition of carbon dioxide in water)
Are carried away in water as solution. Carbon dioxide produced by decaying organic matter along with soil
water greatly aids in this reaction.

Carbonation is the reaction of carbonate and bicarbonate with minerals and is a common process helping the
breaking down of feldspars and carbonate minerals.
Carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and soil air is absorbed by water, to form carbonic acid that acts as a weak
Calcium carbonates and magnesium carbonates are dissolved in carbonic acid and are removed in a solution
without leaving any residue resulting in cave formation.

Hydration is the chemical addition of water. Minerals take up water and expand; this expansion causes an
increase in the volume of the material itself or rock
Calcium sulphate takes in water and turns to gypsum, which is more unstable than calcium sulphate
This process is reversible and long, continued repetition of this process causes fatigue in the rocks and may
lead to their disintegration.
Salts in pore spaces undergo rapid and repeated hydration and help in rock fracturing.
The volume changes in minerals due to hydration will also help in physical weathering through exfoliation and
granular disintegration.

Oxidation means a combination of a mineral with oxygen to form oxides or hydroxides.

Oxidation occurs where there is ready access to the atmosphere and oxygenated waters.
The minerals most commonly involved in this process are iron, manganese, sulphur etc.
In the process of oxidation rock breakdown occurs due to the disturbance caused by addition of oxygen.
Red colour of iron upon oxidation turns to brown or yellow.
When oxidised minerals are placed in an environment where oxygen is absent, reduction takes place.
Such conditions exist usually below the water table, in areas of stagnant water and waterlogged ground.
Red colour of iron upon reduction turns to greenish or bluish grey.
These weathering processes are interrelated. Hydration, carbonation and oxidation go hand in hand and hasten
the weathering process.
Physical Weathering Processes
Physical or mechanical weathering processes depend on some applied forces.
The applied forces could be
Gravitational forces such as overburden pressure, load and shearing stress
Expansion forces due to temperature changes, crystal growth or animal activity
Water pressures controlled by wetting and drying cycles
Many of these forces are applied both at the surface and within different earth materials leading to rock
Most of the physical weathering processes are caused by thermal expansion and pressure release.
These processes are small and slow but can cause great damage to the rocks because of continued fatigue the
rocks suffer due to repetition of contraction and expansion.

Removal of overlying rock load because of continued erosion causes vertical pressure release with the result
that the upper layers of the rock expand producing disintegration of rock masses.
Fractures will develop roughly parallel to the ground surface
In areas of curved ground surface, arched fractures tend to produce massive sheets or exfoliation slabs of rock.
Exfoliation sheets resulting from expansion due to unloading and pressure release may measure hundreds or
even thousands of metres in horizontal extent.
Large, smooth rounded domes called exfoliation domes


Various minerals in rocks possess their own limits of expansion and contraction.
With rise in temperature, every mineral expands and pushes against its neighbour
As temperature falls, a corresponding contraction takes place.
Because of diurnal changes in the temperatures, this internal movement among the mineral grains of the
superficial layers of rocks takes place regularly.
This process is most effective in dry climates and high elevations
Where diurnal temperature changes are drastic.
As has been mentioned earlier though these movements are very small they make the rocks weak due to
continued fatigue
The surface layers of the rocks tend to expand more than the rock at depth and this leads to the formation of
stress within the rock resulting in heaving and fracturing parallel to the surface.

This process is most effective at high elevations in mid-latitudes where freezing and melting is often repeated.
Glacial areas are subject to frost wedging daily. In this process, the rate of freezing is important.
Rapid freezing of water causes its sudden expansion and high pressure
The resulting expansion affects joints, cracks and small inter granular fractures to become wider and wider till
the rock breaks apart.

Expansion of these salts depends on temperature and their thermal properties

High temperature ranges between 30 and 50 o C of surface temperatures in deserts favour such salt expansion.
Salt crystals in near-surface pores
Cause splitting of individual grains within rocks, which eventually fall off
Salt crystallisation is most effective of all salt-weathering processes
Sodium chloride and gypsum crystals in desert areas heave up overlying layers of materials and with the result
polygonal cracks develop all over the heaved surface.
With salt crystal growth, chalk breaks down most readily, followed by limestone, sandstone, shale, gneiss and
granite etc.
Biological weathering is contribution to or removal of minerals and ions from the weathering environment and
physical changes due to growth or movement of organisms.
Burrowing and wedging by organisms like earthworms, termites, rodents etc., help in exposing the new
surfaces to chemical attack and assists in the penetration of moisture and air.
Human beings by disturbing vegetation, ploughing and cultivating soils, also help in mixing and creating new
contacts between air, water and minerals in the earth materials.
Decaying plant and animal matter help in the production of humic, carbonic and other acids which enhance
decay and solubility of some elements.
Decaying plant and animal matter help in the production of humic, carbonic and other acids which enhance
decay and solubility of some elements.
Algae utilise mineral nutrients for growth and help in concentration of iron and manganese oxides.
Disintegrated and fragmented rock materials due to mechanism of weathering process.
That means, air, water or ice does not carry debris with them from place to place but on the other hand the
debris may carry with it air, water or ice
The movements of mass may range from slow to rapid, affecting shallow to deep columns of materials and
include creep, flow, slide and fall.
Gravity exerts its force on all matter, both bedrock and the products of weathering. So, weathering is not a pre-
requisite for mass movement though it aids mass movements.
Mass movements are very active over weathered slopes rather than over unweathered materials.
Mass movements are aided by gravity and no geomorphic agent like running water, glaciers, wind, waves and
currents participate in the process of mass movements.
That means mass movements do not come under erosion though there is a shift (aided by gravity) of materials
from one place to another.
Materials over the slopes have their own resistance to disturbing forces and will yield only when force is
greater than the shearing resistance of the materials.
Several activating causes precede mass movements
1. Removal of support from below to materials above through natural or artificial means
2. Increase in gradient and height of slopes
3. Overloading through addition of materials naturally or by artificial filling
4. Removal of material or load from over the original slope surfaces
5. Occurrence of earthquakes, explosions or machinery
6. Heavy drawdown of water from lakes, reservoirs and rivers leading to slow outflow of water from
under the slopes or river banks
7. Indiscriminate removal of natural vegetation

1. Mass movements can be grouped under three major classes

Slow movements
Rapid movements

Movement of materials is extremely slow and imperceptible except through extended observation. Materials
involved can be soil or rock debris.
Depending upon the type of material involved, several types of creep viz., soil creep, talus creep, rock creep,
rock-glacier creep etc., can be identified.
This process is quite common in moist temperate areas where surface melting of deeply frozen ground and long
continued rain respectively, occur frequently.
When the upper portions get saturated and when the lower parts are impervious to water percolation, flowing
occurs in the upper parts.

These movements are mostly prevalent in humid climatic regions and occur over gentle to steep slopes.
Movement of water-saturated clayey or silty earth materials down low-angle terraces or hillsides is known as
When slopes are steeper, even the bedrock especially of soft sedimentary rocks like shale or deeply weathered
igneous rock may slide downslope.
Another type in this category is mudflow. In the absence of vegetation cover and with heavy rainfall, thick
layers of weathered materials get saturated with water and either slowly or rapidly flows down along definite
It looks like a stream of mud within a valley
Mudflows occur frequently on the slopes of erupting or recently erupted volcanoes.
Volcanic ash, dust and other fragments turn into mud due to heavy rains and flow down as tongues or streams
of mud causing great destruction to human habitations
A third type is the debris avalanche, which is more characteristic of humid regions with or without vegetation
cover and occurs in narrow tracks on steep slopes.
This debris avalanche can be much faster than the mudflow. Debris avalanche is similar to snow avalanche
In Andes mountains of South America and the Rockies mountains of North America, there are a few volcanoes
which erupted during the last decade and very devastating mudflows occurred down their slopes during
eruption as well as after eruption.

These are known as relatively rapid and perceptible movements. The materials involved are relatively dry.
The degree of weathering and the steepness of the slope. Depending upon the type of movement of materials
several types are identified in this category.
Slump is slipping of one or several units of rock debris with a backward rotation with respect to the slope over
which the movement takes place
Rapid rolling or sliding of Earth Debris fall is nearly a free fall of earth debris from a vertical or overhanging
Sliding of individual rock masses down bedding, joint or fault surfaces is rockslide.
Over steep slopes, rock sliding is very fast and destructive.
Landslide scars over steep slopes. Slides occur as planar failures along discontinuities like bedding planes that
dip steeply.
Rock fall is free falling of rock blocks over any steep slope keeping itself away from the slope
Rock falls occur from the superficial layers of the rock


Erosion involves acquisition and transportation of rock debris. When massive rocks break into smaller
Through weathering and any other process, erosional geomorphic agents like running water, groundwater,
glaciers, wind and waves remove and transport it to other places
Depending upon the dynamics of each of these agents.
Abrasion by rock debris carried by these geomorphic agents also aids greatly in erosion.
By erosion, relief degrades, i.e., the landscape is worn down.
Weathering, mass-wasting and erosion are degradational processes.
It is erosion that is largely responsible for continuous changes that the earths surface is undergoing.
Denudational processes like erosion and transportation are controlled by kinetic energy
The erosion and transportation of earth materials is brought about by wind, running water, glaciers, waves and
ground water.
Wind, Running Water, Glaciers represent three state of matter gaseous (Wind), Liquid (Running Water) and
Solid (Glacier) respectively
The erosion can be defined as application of the kinetic energy associated with the agent to the surface of the
land along which it moves
Kinetic energy is computed as KE = 1 / 2 mv2 where m is the mass and v is the velocity
Hence the energy available to perform work will depend on the mass of the material and the velocity with
which it is moving.
In case of waves it is the location along the interface of litho and hydro sphere coastal region that will
determine the work of waves,
Work of ground water is determined more by the lithological character of the region
If the rocks are permeable and soluble and water is available only then karst topography develops
Deposition is a consequence of erosion
The erosional agents lose their velocity and hence energy on gentler slopes and the materials carried by them
start to settle themselves.
Deposition is not actually the work of any agent the coarser materials get deposited first and finer ones later
By deposition depressions get filled up.
Running water, glaciers, wind, waves and groundwater act as aggradational or depositional agents also.
SOIL and soil contents
Pedologist who studies soils defines soil as a collection of natural bodies on the earths surface containing
living matter and supporting or capable of supporting plants.
Soil is a dynamic medium in which many chemical, physical and biological activities go on constantly.
Soil is a result of decay, it is also the medium for growth
It is a changing and developing body.
It has many characteristics that fluctuate with the seasons.
Biological activity is slowed or stopped if the soil becomes too cold or too dry
Organic matter increases when leaves fall or grasses die.
The soil chemistry, the amount of organic matter, the soil flora and fauna, the temperature and the moisture, all
change with the seasons
Soil becomes adjusted to conditions of climate, landform and vegetation and will change internally when these
controlling conditions change.

Soil formation or paedogenesis depends first on weathering

First, the weathered material or transported deposits are colonised by bacteria and other inferior plant bodies
like mosses and lichens.
Several minor organisms may take shelter within the mantle and deposits.
The dead remains of organisms and plants help in humus accumulation.
Minor grasses and ferns may grow; later, bushes and trees will start growing through seeds brought in by birds
and wind.
Plant roots penetrate down, burrowing animals bring up particles, mass of material becomes porous and sponge
like with a capacity to retain water and to permit the passage of air
Finally a mature soil, a complex mixture of mineral and organic products forms.
Soil forming factors
Five basic factors control the formation of soils
Parent material
Biological activity

Parent material is a passive control factor in soil formation.
Parent materials can be any insitu or on-site weathered rock debris (residual soils) or transported deposits
(transported soils).
Soil formation depends upon the texture (sizes of debris) and structure (disposition of individual
grains/particles of debris) as well as the mineral and chemical composition of the rock debris/deposits.
Nature and rate of weathering and depth of weathering mantle are important consideration under parent
There may be differences in soil over similar bedrock and dissimilar bedrocks may have similar soils above
Young soils show strong links with the type of parent rock.


Topography like parent materials is another passive control factor.

The influence of topography is felt through the amount of exposure of a surface covered by parent materials to
The amount of surface and sub-surface drainage over and through the parent materials.
Soils will be thin on steep slopes and thick over flat upland areas.
Over gentle slopes where erosion is slow and percolation of water is good, soil formation is very favourable.
Soils over flat areas may develop a thick layer of clay with good accumulation of organic matter giving the soil
dark colour.
In middle latitudes, the south facing slopes exposed to sunlight have different conditions of vegetation and soils
the north facing slopes with cool, moist conditions have some other soils and vegetation.

Climate is an important active factor in soil formation.

The climatic elements involved in soil development are
1. Moisture in terms of its intensity, frequency and duration of precipitation - evaporation and humidity
2. Temperature in terms of seasonal and diurnal variations
Precipitation gives soil its moisture content which makes the chemical and biological activities possible.
Excess of water helps in the downward transportation of soil components through the soil (eluviation) and
deposits the same down below (illuviation).
In climates like wet equatorial rainy areas with high rainfall, not only calcium, sodium, magnesium, potassium
etc. but also a major part of silica is removed from the soil
Removal of silica from the soil is known as desilication
In dry climates, because of high temperature, evaporation exceeds precipitation and hence ground water is
brought up to the surface by capillary action
In the process the water evaporates leaving behind salts in the soil. Such salts form into a crust in the soil
known as hardpans
In tropical climates and in areas with intermediate precipitation conditions, calcium carbonate nodules (kanker)
are formed.
Temperature acts in two ways
Increasing or reducing chemical and biological activity
Chemical activity is increased in higher temperatures,
Reduced in cooler temperatures (with an exception of carbonation) and stops in freezing conditions.
Tropical soils with higher temperatures show deeper profiles
In the frozen tundra regions soils contain largely mechanically broken materials.

The vegetative cover and organisms that occupy the parent materials from the beginning and also at later stages
help in adding organic matter, moisture retention, nitrogen etc.
Dead plants provide humus, the finely divided organic matter of the soil.
Some organic acids which form during humification aid in decomposing the minerals of the soil parent
Intensity of bacterial activity shows up differences between soils of cold and warm climates.
Humus accumulates in cold climates as bacterial growth is slow.
With undecomposed organic matter because of low bacterial activity, layers of peat develop in sub-arctic and
tundra climates.
In humid tropical and equatorial climates, bacterial growth and action is intense and dead vegetation is rapidly
oxidised leaving very low humus content in the soil.
Bacteria and other soil organisms take gaseous nitrogen from the air and convert it into a chemical form that
can be used by plants.
This process is known as nitrogen fixation
Rhizobium, a type of bacteria, lives in the root nodules of leguminous plants and fixes nitrogen beneficial to the
host plant.
The influence of large animals like ants, termites, earthworms, rodents etc., is mechanical, but, it is nevertheless
important in soil formation as they rework the soil up and down.
In case of earthworms, as they feed on soil, the texture and chemistry of the soil that comes out of their body

Time is the third important controlling factor in soil formation.

The length of time the soil forming processes operate, determine maturation of soils and profile development
A soil becomes mature when all soil-forming processes act for a sufficiently long time developing a profile.
Soils developing from recently deposited alluvium or glacial till are considered young and they exhibit no
horizons or only poorly developed horizons
No specific length of time in absolute terms can be fixed for soils to develop and mature.

Small to medium tracts or parcels of the earths surface are called landforms

Several related landforms together make up landscapes, (large tracts of earths surface)
Each landform has its own physical shape, size, materials and is a result of the action of certain geomorphic
processes and agent(s)
Actions of most of the geomorphic processes and agents are slow results take a long time to take shape
Due to continued action of geomorphic processes Landforms may change in their shape, size and nature slowly
or fast.
Reasons for the modification in landforms
1. Changes in climatic conditions
2. Vertical or horizontal movements of landmasses
Stages of transformation of either a part of the earths surface from one landform into another or transformation
Each and every landform has a history
A landmass passes through stages of development
1. Youth
2. Mature
3. Old age
Geomorphology deals with the reconstruction of the history of the surface of the earth

Running water
Ground-water, glaciers, wind and waves
Acting over long periods of time produce systematic changes leading to sequential development of landforms.
Each geomorphic agent produces its own assemblage of landforms
Each geomorphic process and agent leave their distinct imprints on the landforms
Most of the geomorphic processes are imperceptible can only be seen and measured through their results

Erosional or destructional
Depositional or constructional
Many varieties of landforms develop by the action of each of the geomorphic agents depending upon the type
and structure
Folds, faults, joints, fractures, hardness and softness, permeability and impermeability, etc. come under
structure of rocks.

stability of sea level

tectonic stability of landmasses
Any disturbance in any of these three controlling factors can upset the systematic and sequential stages in the
development and evolution of landforms.
A brief discussion is presented as to how landmasses are reduced in their relief through erosion and then,
Running water
In humid regions running water is considered the most important of the geomorphic agents in bringing about
the degradation of the land surface.
There are two components of running water.
One is overland flow on general land surface as a sheet another is linear flow as streams and rivers in valleys.
Most of the erosional landforms made by running water are associated with vigorous and youthful rivers
flowing along gradients.
With time, stream channels over steep gradients turn gentler due to continued erosion lose their velocity,
facilitating active deposition
Depositional forms associated with streams flowing over steep slopes will be on a small scale compared to
those associated with rivers flowing over medium to gentle slopes.
The gentler the river channels in gradient or slope, the greater is the deposition.
When the stream beds turn gentler due to continued erosion, downward cutting becomes less dominant.
Lateral erosion of banks increases and as a consequence the hills and valleys are reduced to plains.
Overland flow causes sheet erosion depending upon irregularities of the land surface.
The overland flow may concentrate into narrow to wide paths, because of the sheer friction of the column of
flowing water
Minor or major quantities of materials from the surface of the land are removed in the direction of flow and
gradually small andnarrow rills will form.
These rills will gradually develop into long and wide gullies
The gullies will further deepen, widen, lengthen and unite to give rise to a network of valleys
In the early stages, down-cutting dominates during which irregularities such as waterfalls and cascades will be
In the middle stages, streams cut their beds slower, and lateral erosion of valley sides becomes severe.
The valley sides are reduced to lower and lower slopes.
The divides between drainage basins are likewise lowered until they are almost completely flattened
A lowland of faint relief with some low resistant remnants called monadnocks standing out here and there.
This type of plain forming as a result of stream erosion is called peneplain (an almost plain) characteristics of
each of the stages
1. Streams are few during this stage with poor integration and flow over original slopes showing
shallow V-shaped valleys.
2. With very narrow floodplains along trunk streams.
3. Streams divides are broad and flat with marshes, swamp and lakes.
5. These meanders entrench themselves into the uplands.
6. Waterfalls and rapids may exist where local hard rock bodies are exposed.
1. During this stage streams are plenty with good integration.
2. The valleys are still V-shaped but deep
4. Streams may flow in meanders confined within the valley
5. The flat and broad inter stream areas and swamps and marshes of youth disappear
6. The stream divides turn sharp. Waterfalls and rapids disappear.
1. Smaller tributaries during old age are few with gentle gradients
2. Streams meander freely over vast floodplains showing natural levees, oxbow lakes, etc.
3. Divides are broad and flat with lakes, swamps and marshes.
4. Most of the landscape is at or slightly above sea level.
1. Valleys start as small and narrow rills.
2. The rills will gradually develop into long and wide gullies.
3. The gullies will further deepen, widen and lengthen to give rise to valleys.
4. Depending upon dimensions and shape, many types of valleys like V-shaped valley, gorge, canyon, etc. can be
7. A gorge is almost equal in width at its top as well as its bottom.
8. A canyon is wider at its top than at its bottom a canyon is a variant of gorge.
9. Valley types depend upon the type and structure of rocks in which they form.
10. Canyons commonly form in horizontal bedded sedimentary rocks and gorges form in hard rocks.
11. Over the rocky beds of hill-streams more or less circular depressions called potholes form because of stream
erosion aided by the abrasion of rock fragments.
12. Once a small and shallow depression forms, pebbles and boulders get collected in those depressions
13. Get rotated by flowing water and consequently the depressions grow in dimensions.
14. A series of such depressions eventually join and the stream valley gets deepened.
15. At the foot of waterfalls large potholes, quite deep and wide, form because of the sheer impact of water and
rotation of boulders.
16. Such large and deep holes at the base of waterfalls are called plunge pools
17. These pools also help in the deepening of valleys.
Incised or entrenched meanders
In streams that flow rapidly over steep gradients, normally erosion is concentrated on the bottom of the stream
In the case of steep gradient streams, lateral erosion on the sides of the valleys is not much when compared to
the streams flowing on low and gentle slopes.
Because of active lateral erosion, streams flowing over gentle slopes develop sinuous or meandering courses.
It is common to find meandering courses over floodplains and delta plains where stream gradients are very
Very deep and wide meanders can also be found cut in hard rocks.
Such meanders are called incised or entrenched meanders
Meander loops develop over original gentle surfaces in the initial stages of development of streams
Same loops get entrenched into the rocks normally due to erosion or slow, continued uplift of the land over
which they start.
They widen and deepen over time and can be found as deep gorges and canyons in hard rock areas.
River terraces
River terraces are surfaces marking old valley floor or floodplain levels.
They may be bedrock surfaces without any alluvial cover or alluvial terraces consisting of stream deposits.
River terraces are basically products of erosion as they result due to vertical erosion by the stream into its own
depositional floodplain.
There can be a number of such terraces at different heights indicating former river bed levels
The river terraces may occur at the same elevation on either side of the rivers in which case they are
called paired terraces.
When a terrace is present only on one side of the stream and with none on the other side or one at quite a
different elevation on the other side, the terraces are called non-paired terraces.
Unpaired terraces are typical in areas of slow uplift of land or where the water column changes are not uniform
along both the banks.
The terraces may result due to
1. Receding water after a peak flow
2. Change in hydrological regime due to climatic changes
3. Tectonic uplift of land
4. Sea level changes in case of rivers closer to the sea
Alluvial fans
1. Formed when streams flowing from higher levels break into foot slope plains of low gradient.
2. Normally very coarse load is carried by streams flowing over mountain slopes.
3. This load becomes too heavy for the streams to be carried over gentler gradients and gets dumped and spread as
a broad low to high cone shaped deposit called alluvial fan.
4. The streams which flow over fans are not confined to their original channels for long and shift their position
across the fan forming many channels called distributaries.
5. Alluvial fans in humid areas show normally low cones with gentle slope.
6. They appear as high cones with steep slope in arid and semi-arid climates.
1. Deltas are like alluvial fans but develop at a different location.
2. The load carried by the rivers is dumped and spread into the sea.
3. If this load is not carried away far into the sea or distributed along the coast, it spreads and accumulates as a
low cone.
4. Unlike in alluvial fans, the deposits making up deltas are very well sorted with clear stratification.
5. The coarsest materials settle out first and the finer fractions like silts and clays are carried out into the sea.
6. As the delta grows, the river distributaries continue to increase in length delta continues to build up into the sea.
Floodplains, natural levees and point bars
Deposition develops a floodplain just as erosion makes valleys.
Floodplain is a major landform of river deposition.
Large sized materials are deposited first when stream channel breaks into a gentle slope.
Fine sized materials like sand, silt and clay are carried by relatively slow moving waters in gentler channels.
Found in the plains and deposited over the bed and when the waters spill over the banks during flooding above
the bed.
A river bed made of river deposits is the active floodplain.
The floodplain above the bank is inactive floodplain.
Inactive floodplain above the banks basically contain two types of deposits
1. Flood deposits
2. Channel deposits
In plains, channels shift laterally and change their courses occasionally leaving cut-off courses
get filled up gradually
Such areas over flood plains built up by abandoned or cut-off channels contain coarse deposits.
The flood deposits of spilled waters carry relatively finer materials like silt and clay. The flood plains in a delta
are called delta plains.
NATURAL LEVEES and point bars are some of the important landforms found associated with floodplains.
Natural levees are found along the banks of large rivers.
They are low, linear and parallel ridges of coarse deposits along the banks of rivers,
During flooding as the water spills over the bank, the velocity of the water comes down and large sized and
high specific gravity materials get dumped in the immediate vicinity of the bank as ridges.
They are high nearer the banks and slope gently away from the river.
The levee deposits are coarser than the deposits spread by flood waters away from the river.
When rivers shift laterally, a series of natural levees can form.
They are found on the convex side of meanders of large rivers and are sediments deposited in a linear fashion
by flowing waters along the bank.
They are almost uniform in profile and in width and contain mixed sizes of sediments.
If there more than one ridge, narrow and elongated depressions are found in between the point bars.
Rivers build a series of them depending upon the water flow and supply of sediment.
As the rivers build the point bars on the convex side, the bank on the concave side will erode actively.
1. In large flood and delta plains, rivers rarely flow in straight courses.
2. Loop-like channel patterns called meanders develop over flood and delta
3. Meander is not a landform but is only a type of channel pattern
4. This is because
propensity of water flowing over very gentle gradients to work laterally on the banks
unconsolidated nature of alluvial deposits making up the banks with many irregularities which can be used by
water exerting pressure laterally
coriolis force acting on the fluid water deflecting it like it deflects the wind
When the gradient of the channel becomes extremely low, water flows leisurely and starts working laterally
Slight irregularities along the banks slowly get transformed into a small curvature in the banks
the curvature deepens due to deposition on the inside of the curve and erosion along the bank on the outside
If there is no deposition and no erosion or undercutting, the tendency to meander is reduced.
Normally, in meanders of large rivers, there is active deposition along the convex bank and undercutting along
the concave bank
The concave bank is known as cut-off bank which shows up as a steep scarp and the convex bank presents a
long, gentle profile and is known as slip-off bank
5. As meanders grow into deep loops, the same may get cut-off due to erosion at the inflection points and are left
as ox-bow lakes.
Braided channels
1. When rivers carry coarse material, there can be selective deposition of coarser materials causing formation of a
central bar which diverts the flow towards the banks
2. This flow increases lateral erosion on the banks
3. The valley widens, the water column is reduced and more and more materials get deposited as islands
4. Lateral bars developing a number of separate channels of water flow.
5. Deposition and lateral erosion of banks are essential for the formation of braided pattern
6. Channel bars and islands of sand, gravel and pebbles develop on the floor of the channel and the water flow is
divided into multiple threads.
7. These thread-like streams of water rejoin and subdivide repeatedly to give a typical braided pattern.
1. Our focus is not on the definition but work of groundwater in the erosion of landmasses and evolution of
2. The surface water percolates well when the rocks are permeable, thinly bedded and highly jointed and cracked.
3. After vertically going down to some depth, the water under the ground flows horizontally through the bedding
planes, joints or through the materials themselves.
4. It is this downward and horizontal movement of water which causes the rocks to erode.
5. Physical or mechanical removal of materials by moving groundwater is insignificant in developing landforms.
6. That is why; the results of the work of groundwater cannot be seen in all types of rocks.
7. But in rocks like limestones or dolomites rich in calcium carbonate
8. The surface water as well as groundwater through the chemical process of solution and precipitation deposition
develops varieties of landforms.
9. These two processes of solution and precipitation are active in limestones or dolomites occurring either
exclusively or interbedded with other rocks.
10. Any limestone or dolomitic region showing typical landforms produced by the action of groundwater through
the processes of solution and deposition is called Karst topography
11. The typical topography developed in limestone rocks of Karst region in the Balkans adjacent to Adriatic Sea.
12. The karst topography is also characterised by erosional and depositional landforms.
Pools, sinkholes, lapis and limestone pavements
Small to medium sized round to sub-rounded shallow depressions called swallow holes form on the surface of
limestones through solution.
Sinkholes are very common in limestone/karst areas.
A SINKHOLE is an opening more or less circular at the top and funnel-shapped towards the bottom with sizes
varying in area from a few sq. m to a hectare and with depth from a less than half a metre to thirty metres or
Some of these form solely through solution action (solution sinks) and others might start
As solution forms first and if the bottom of a sinkhole forms the roof of a void or cave underground.
It might collapse leaving a large hole opening into a cave or a void below (collapse sinks).
Quite often, sinkholes are covered up with soil mantle and appear as shallow water pools.
Anybody stepping over such pools would go down like it happens in quicksands in deserts.
The term dolineis sometimes used to refer the collapse sinks.
Solution sinks are more common than collapse sinks.
Quite often the surface run-off simply goes down swallow and sink holes and flow as underground streams and
re-emerge at a distance downstream through a cave opening.
When sink holes and dolines join together because of slumping of materials along their margins or due to roof
collapse of caves, long, narrow to wide trenches called valley sinks or Uvalasform.
Gradually, most of the surface of the limestone is eaten away by these pits and trenches, leaving it extremely
irregular with a maze of points, grooves and ridgesor lapies.
Especially, these ridges or lapies form due to differential solution activity along parallel to sub-parallel joints.
The lapie field may eventually turn into somewhat smooth limestone pavements.
In areas where there are alternating beds of rocks (shales, sandstones, quartzites) with limestone or dolomites in
In areas where limestones are dense, massive and occurring as thick beds, cave formation is prominent.
Water percolates down either through the materials or through cracks and joints and moves horizontally along
bedding planes.
It is along these bedding planes that the limestone dissolves and long and narrow to wide gaps called caves
There can be a maze of caves at different elevations depending upon the limestone beds and intervening rocks.
Caves normally have an opening through which cave streams are discharged.
Caves having openings at both the ends are called tunnels.
Depositional landforms
1. Many depositional forms develop within the limestone caves
2. The chief chemical in limestone is calcium carbonate which is easily soluble in carbonated water (carbon
dioxide absorbed rainwater).

Stalactites hang as icicles of different diameters.

Normally they are broad at their bases and taper towards the free ends showing up in a variety of forms.
Stalagmites rise up from the floor of the caves. In fact, stalagmites form due to dripping water from the surface
or through the thin pipe, of the stalactite, immediately below it
Stalagmites may take the shape of a column, a disc, with either a smooth, rounded bulging end or a miniature
crater like depression.
The stalagmite and stalactites eventually fuse to give rise to columns and pillars of different diameters.
Masses of ice moving as sheets over the land (continental glacier or piedmont glacier if a vast sheet of ice is
spread over the plains at the foot of mountains) or as linear flows down the slopes of mountains in broad
trough-like valleys (mountain and valley glaciers) are called glaciers
The movement of glaciers is slow unlike water flow.
The movement could be a few centimetres to a few metres a day or even less or more.
Glaciers move basically because of the force of gravity.
We have many glaciers in our country moving down the slopes and valleys in Himalayas.
Higher reaches of Uttaranchal, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir, are places to see some of them.
Bhagirathi is basically fed by melt waters from under the snout (Gaumukh) of the Gangotri glacier.
In fact, Alkapuri glacier feeds waters to Alakananda River. Rivers Alkananda and Bhagirathi join to make river
Ganga near Deoprayag
Erosion by glaciers is tremendous because of friction caused by sheer weight of the ice.
The material plucked from the land by glaciers (usually large-sized angular blocks and fragments) get dragged
along the floors or sides of the valleys and cause great damage through abrasion and plucking.
Glaciers can cause significant damage to even un-weathered rocks and can reduce high mountains into low hills
and plains.
As glaciers continue to move, debris gets removed, divides get lowered and eventually the slope is reduced to
such an extent that glaciers will stop moving
leaving only a mass of low hills and vast outwash plains along with other depositional features
Erosional landforms

Cirques are the most common of landforms in glaciated mountains.

The cirques quite often are found at the heads of glacial valleys.
The accumulated ice cuts these cirques while moving down the mountain tops.
They are deep, long and wide troughs or basins with very steep concave to vertically dropping high walls at its
head as well as sides.
A lake of water can be seen quite often within the cirques after the glacier disappears.
Such lakes are called cirque or tarn lakes.
There can be two or more cirques one leading into another down below in a stepped sequence.
Horns and Serrated Ridges
Horns form through head ward erosion of the cirque walls.
If three or more radiating glaciers cut headward until their cirques meet, high, sharp pointed and steep sided
peaks called horns form.
The divides between cirque side walls or head walls get narrow because of progressive erosion and turn into
serrated or saw-toothed ridges sometimes referred to as artes with very sharp crest and a zig-zag outline.
The highest peak in the Alps, Matterhorn and the highest peak in the Himalayas, Everest are in fact horns
formed through headward erosion of radiating cirques.
Glacial valleys/troughs
Glaciated valleys are trough-like and U-shaped with broad floors and relatively smooth, and steep sides.
The valleys may contain littered debris or debris shaped as moraines with swampy appearance.
There may be lakes gouged out of rocky floor or formed by debris within the valleys.
There can be hanging valleys at an elevation on one or both sides of the main glacial valley.
The faces of divides or spurs of such hanging valleys opening into main glacial valleys are quite often truncated
to give them an appearance like triangular facets.
Very deep glacial troughs filled with sea water and making up shorelines (in high latitudes) are called
Depositional landforms
The unassorted coarse and fine debris dropped by the melting glaciers is called glacial till
Most of the rock fragments in till are angular to subangular in form.
Streams form by melting ice at the bottom, sides or lower ends of glaciers.
Some amount of rock debris small enough to be carried by such melt-water streams is washed down and
Such glaciofluvial deposits are called outwash deposits.
Unlike till deposits, the outwash deposits are roughly stratified and assorted.
The rock fragments in outwash deposits are somewhat rounded at their edges.
They are long ridges of deposits of glacial till.
Terminal moraines are long ridges of debris deposited at the end (toe) of the glaciers.
Lateral moraines form along the sides parallel to the glacial valleys.
The lateral moraines may join a terminal moraine forming a horse-shoe shaped ridge.
There can be many lateral moraines on either side in a glacial valley.
These moraines partly or fully owe their origin to glacio-fluvial waters pushing up materials to the sides of
Many valley glaciers retreating rapidly leave an irregular sheet of till over their valley floors.
Such deposits varying greatly in thickness and in surface topography are called ground moraines.
The moraine in the centre of the
Glacial valley flanked by lateral moraines is called medial moraine.
They are imperfectly formed as compared to lateral moraines.
Sometimes medial moraines are indistinguishable from ground moraines.

When glaciers melt in summer, the water flows on the surface of the ice or seeps down along the margins or
even moves through holes in the ice.
These waters accumulate beneath the glacier and flow like streams in a channel beneath the ice.
Such streams flow over the ground (not in a valley cut in the ground) with ice forming its banks.
Very coarse materials like boulders and blocks along with some minor fractions of rock debris carried into this
stream settle in the valley of ice beneath the glacier
After the ice melts can be found as a sinuous ridge called esker.
Outwash plains
1. The plains at the foot of the glacial mountains or beyond the limits of continental ice sheets are covered with
glacio-fluvial deposits in the form of broad flat alluvial fans
2. This may join to form outwash plains of gravel, silt, sand and clay.
Drumlins are smooth oval shaped ridge-like features composed mainly of glacial till with some masses of
gravel and sand.
The long axes of drumlins are parallel to the direction of ice movement.
They may measure up to 1 km in length and 30 m or so in height.
One end of the drumlins facing the glacier called the stoss end is blunter and steeper than the other end called
The drumlins form due to dumping of rock debris beneath heavily loaded ice through fissures in the glacier.
The stoss end gets blunted due to pushing by moving ice.
Drumlins give an indication of direction of glacier movement.
Coastal processes are the most dynamic and hence most destructive
Some of the changes along the coasts take place very fast
At one place, there can be erosion in one season and deposition in another.
Most of the changes along the coasts are accomplished by waves.
When waves break, the water is thrown with great force onto the shore, and simultaneously, there is a great
churning of sediments on the sea bottom.
Constant impact of breaking waves drastically affects the coasts.
Storm waves and tsunami waves can cause far-reaching changes in a short period of time than normal breaking
As wave environment changes, the intensity of the force of breaking waves changes.
Other than the action of waves, the coastal landforms depend upon
o The configuration of land and sea floor
o Whether the coast is advancing (emerging) seaward or retreating (submerging) landward
Assuming sea level to be constant, two types of coasts are considered to explain the concept of evolution of
Coastal Landforms
1. High, rocky coasts (submerged coasts)
2. Low, smooth and gently sloping sedimentary coasts (emerged coasts).
Along the high rocky coasts, the rivers appear to have been drowned with highly irregular coastline.
The coastline appears highly indented with extension of water into the land where glacial valleys (fjords) are
The hill sides drop off sharply into the water.
Shores do not show any depositional landforms initially. Erosion features dominate.
Along high rocky coasts, waves break with great force against the land shaping the hill sides into cliffs
With constant pounding by waves, the cliffs recede leaving a wave-cut platform in front of the sea cliff.
Waves gradually minimise the irregularities along the shore.
The materials which fall off, and removed from the sea cliffs, gradually break into smaller fragments and roll to
roundness will get deposited in the offshore.
After a considerable period of cliff development and retreat when coastline turns somewhat smooth
With the addition of some more material to this deposit in the offshore, a wave-built terrace would develop in
front of wave-cut terrace.
As the erosion along the coast takes place a good supply material becomes available to long shore currents and
waves to deposit them as beaches
Along the shore and as bars (long ridges of sand and/or shingle parallel to the coast) in the near shore zone.
Bars are submerged features and when bars show up above water, they are called barrier bars.
Barrier bar which get keyed up to the headland of a bay is called a spit.
When barrier bars and spits form at the mouth of a bay and block it, a lagoon forms.
The lagoons would gradually get filled up by sediments from the land giving rise to a coastal plain.


Along low sedimentary coasts the rivers appear to extend their length by building coastal plains and deltas.
The coastline appears smooth with occasional incursions of water in the form of lagoons and tidal creeks.
The land slopes gently into the water.
Marshes and swamps may abound along the coasts. Depositional features dominate.
When waves break over a gently sloping sedimentary coast.
Lagoons would eventually turn into a swamp which would subsequently turn into a coastal plain.
The maintenance of these depositional features depends upon the steady supply of materials
Storm and tsunami waves cause drastic changes irrespective of supply of sediments.
Large rivers which bring lots of sediments build deltas along low sedimentary coasts.
The west coast of our country is a high rocky retreating coast.
Erosional forms dominate in the west coast.
The east coast of India is a low sedimentary coast.
Depositional forms dominate in the east coast.
Erosional landforms

Wave-cut cliffs and terraces are two forms usually found where erosion is the dominant shore process.
Almost all sea cliffs are steep and may range from a few m to 30 m or even more.
At the foot of such cliffs there may be a flat or gently sloping platform covered by rock debris derived from the
sea cliff behind.
Such platforms occurring at elevations above the average height of waves is called a wave- cut terrace.
The lashing of waves against the base of the cliff and the rock debris that gets smashed against the cliff along
with lashing waves create hollows and these hollows get widened and deepened to form sea caves.
The roofs of caves collapse and the sea cliffs recede further inland.
Retreat of the cliff may leave some remnants of rock standing isolated as small islands just off the shore.
Such resistant masses of rock, originally parts of a cliff or hill are called sea stacks.
Like all other features, sea stacks are also temporary and eventually coastal hills and cliffs will disappear
because of wave erosion giving rise to narrow coastal plains
And with onrush of deposits from over the land behind may get covered up by alluvium or may get covered up
by shingle or sand to form a wide beach.
Depositional landforms

Beaches are characteristic of shorelines that are dominated by deposition, but may occur as patches along even
the rugged shores.
Most of the sediment making up the beaches comes from land carried by the streams and rivers or from wave
Beaches are temporary features.
The sandy beach which appears so permanent may be reduced to a very narrow strip of coarse pebbles in some
other season.
Most of the beaches are made up of sand sized materials.
Beaches called shingle beaches contain excessively small pebbles and even cobbles.
Just behind the beach, the sands lifted and winnowed from over the beach surfaces will be deposited as sand
Sand dunes forming long ridges parallel to the coastline are very common along low sedimentary coasts.
A ridge of sand and shingle formed in the sea in the off-shore zone (from the position of low tide waterline to
seaward) lying approximately parallel to the coast is called an off-shore bar.
An off-shore bar which is exposed due to further addition of sand is termed a barrier bar.
The off-shore bars and barriers commonly form across the mouth of a river or at the entrance of a bay.
Sometimes such barrier bars get keyed up to one end of the bay when they are called spits(
Spits may also develop attached to headlands/hills.
The barriers, bars and spits at the mouth of the bay gradually extend leaving only a small opening of the bay
into the sea and the bay will eventually develop into a lagoon.
The lagoons get filled up gradually by sediment coming from the land or from the beach it (aided by wind) and
a broad and wide coastal plain may develop replacing a lagoon.
Do you know, the coastal off-shore bars offer the first buffer or defence against storm or tsunami by absorbing
most of their destructive force.
Then come the barriers, beaches, beach dunes and mangroves,
If any, to absorb the destructive force of storm and tsunami waves.
if we do anything which disturbs the sediment budget and the mangroves along the coast,
These coastal forms will get eroded away leaving human habitations to bear first strike of storm and tsunami
Wind is one of the two dominant agents in hot deserts.
The desert floors get heated up too much and too quickly because of being dry and barren.
The heated floors heat up the air directly above them and result in upward movements in the hot lighter air with
Any obstruction in its path sets up eddies, whirlwinds, updrafts and downdrafts.
Winds also move along the desert floors with great speed and the obstructions in their path create turbulence.
Of course, there are storm winds which are very destructive.
Winds cause deflation, abrasion and impact.
Deflation includes lifting and removal of dust and smaller particles from the surface of rocks.
In the transportation process sand and silt act as effective tools to abrade the land surface.
The impact is simply sheer force of momentum which occurs when sand is blown into or against a rock surface.
It is similar to sandblasting operation.
The wind action creates a number of interesting erosional and depositional features in the deserts.
Many features of deserts owe their formation to mass wasting and running water as sheet floods.
Though rain is scarce in deserts, it comes down torrentially in a short period of time.
The desert rocks devoid of vegetation, exposed to mechanical and chemical weathering processes due to drastic
diurnal temperature changes
decay faster and the torrential rains help in removing the weathered materials easily
the weathered debris in deserts is moved by not only wind but also by rain/sheet wash.
The wind moves fine materials and general mass erosion is accomplished mainly through sheet floods or sheet
Stream channels in desert areas are broad, smooth and indefinite and flow for a brief time after rains.
Erosional landforms

Landscape evolution in deserts is primarily concerned with the formation and extension of pediments.
Gently inclined rocky floors close to the mountains at their foot with or without a thin cover of debris are called
Such rocky floors form through the erosion of mountain front through a combination of lateral erosion by
streams and sheet flooding.
Erosion starts along the steep margins of the landmass or the steep sides of the tectonically controlled steep
incision features over the landmass.
Once, pediments are formed with a steep wash slope followed by cliff or free face above it
The steep wash slope and free face retreat backwards.
This method of erosion is termed as parallel retreat of slopes through backwasting.
So, through parallel retreat of slopes, the pediments extend backwards at the expense of mountain front, and
gradually, the mountain gets reduced leaving an inselberg which is a remnant of the mountain.
Thats how the high relief in desert areas is reduced to low featureless plains called pediplains.

1. Plains are by far the most prominent landforms in the deserts.

2. In basins with mountains and hills around and along, the drainage is towards the centre of the basin.
3. Due to gradual deposition of sediment from basin margins, a nearly level plain forms at the centre of the basin.
4. In times of sufficient water, this plain is covered up by a shallow water body.
5. Such types of shallow lakes are called as playas
6. Where water is retained only for short duration due to evaporation and quite often the playas contain good
deposition of salts.
7. The playa plain covered up by salts is called alkali flats.

Weathered mantle from over the rocks or bare soil, gets blown out by persistent movement of wind currents in
one direction.
This process may create shallow depressions called deflation hollows.
Deflation also creates numerous small pits or cavities over rock surfaces.
The rock faces suffer impact and abrasion of wind-borne sand and first shallow depressions called blow outs
are created
Some of the blow outs become deeper and wider fit to be called caves.
Mushroom, Table and Pedestal Rocks
Many rock-outcrops in the deserts easily susceptible to wind deflation and abrasion are worn out quickly
leaving some remnants of resistant rocks.
Polished beautifully in the shape of mushroom with a slender stalk and a broad and rounded pear shaped cap
Sometimes, the top surface is broad like a table top and quite often, the remnants stand out like pedestals.
Depositional landforms
Wind is a good sorting agent. Depending upon the velocity of wind
different sizes of grains are moved along the floors by rolling or saltation and carried in suspension and in this
process of transportation itself,
The materials get sorted. When the wind slows or begins to die down
Depending upon sizes of grains and their critical velocities, the grains will begin to settle.
in depositional landforms made by wind, good sorting of grains can be found
Wind is there everywhere and wherever there is good source of sand and with constant wind directions,
depositional features in arid regions can develop anywhere.

1. Dry hot deserts are good places for sand dune formation.
2. Obstacles to initiate dune formation
3. are equally important
4. There can be a great variety of dune forms

Crescent shaped dunes called barchans with the points or wings directed away from wind direction i.e.,
Form where the wind direction is constant and moderate and where the original surface over which sand is
moving is almost uniform.
Parabolic dunes form when sandy surfaces are partially covered with vegetation.
That means parabolic dunes are reversed barchans with wind direction being the same.
Seifis similar to barchan with a small difference
Seif has only one wing or point. This happens when there is shift in wind conditions.
The lone wings of seifs can grow very long and high.
Longitudinal dunes form when supply of sand is poor and wind direction is constant.
They appear as long ridges of considerable length but low in height.
Transverse dunes are aligned perpendicular to wind direction.
These dunes form when the wind direction is constant and the source of sand is an elongated feature at right
angles to the wind direction.
They may be very long and low in height.
When sand is plenty, quite often, the regular shaped dunes coalesce and lose their individual characteristics.
Most of the dunes in the deserts shift and a few of them will get stabilised especially near human habitations.


Climatology Introduction to Atmosphere

1. The air is an integral part of the earths mass and 99 per cent of the total mass of the atmosphere is confined to
the height of 32 km from the earths surface
2. The air is colourless and odourless and can be felt only when it blows as wind.
Composition of the atmosphere
1. The atmosphere is composed of gases, water vapour and dust particles.
2. The proportion of gases changes in the higher layers of the atmosphere in such a way
3. That oxygen will be almost in negligible quantity at the height of 120 km
4. Carbon dioxide and water vapour are found only up to 90 km from the surface of the earth.

Carbon dioxide is meteorologically a very important gas

It is transparent to the incoming solar radiation but opaque to the outgoing terrestrial radiation.
It absorbs a part of terrestrial radiation and reflects back some part of it towards the earths surface.
It is largely responsible for the green house effect
The volume of other gases is constant but the volume of carbon dioxide has been rising in the past few decades
because of the burning of fossil fuels.
This has also increased the temperature of the air.
Ozone is another important component of the atmosphere found between 10 and 50 km above the earths
Acts as a filter and absorbs the ultra-violet rays radiating from the sun and prevents them from reaching the
surface of the earth.
Water vapour is also a variable gas in the atmosphere
This decreases with altitude. In the warm and wet tropics, it may account for four per cent of the air by volume.
While in the dry and cold areas of desert and Polar Regions, it may be less than one per cent of the air.
Water vapour also decreases from the equator towards the poles.
It also absorbs parts of the insolation from the sun and preserves the earths radiated heat.

It thus, acts like a blanket allowing the earth neither to become too cold nor too hot.
Water vapour also contributes to the stability and instability in the air.

Atmosphere has a sufficient capacity to keep small solid particles

This may originate from different sources and include sea salts, fine soil, smoke-soot, ash, pollen, dust and
disintegrated particles of meteors.
Dust particles are generally concentrated in the lower layers of the atmosphere; yet, convectional air currents
may transport them to great heights.
The higher concentration of dust particles is found in subtropical and temperate regions
Due to dry winds in comparison to equatorial and polar regions.
Dust and salt particles act as hygroscopic nuclei around which water vapour condenses to produce clouds.

1. The atmosphere consists of different layers with varying density and temperature
2. Density is highest near the surface of the earth and decreases with increasing altitude.
3. The column of atmosphere is divided into five different layers depending upon the temperature condition.
They are -
1. Troposphere
2. Stratosphere
3. Mesosphere
4. Ionosphere
5. Exosphere

The troposphere is the lowermost layer of the atmosphere.

Its average height is 13 km and extends roughly to a height of 8 km near the poles and about 18 km at the
Thickness of the troposphere is greatest at the equator because heat is transported to great heights by strong
convectional currents.
This layer contains dust particles and water vapour.
All changes in climate and weather take place in this layer.
The temperature in this layer decreases at the rate of 1 C for every 165m of height.
This is the most important layer for all biological activity.

The zone separating the troposphere from stratosphere is known as the tropopause.
The air temperature at the tropopause is about minus 800 C over the equator about minus 45 o C over the poles.
The temperature here is nearly constant, and hence, it is called the tropopause.


The stratosphere is found above the tropopause and extends up to a height of 50 km.
One important feature of the stratosphere is that it contains the ozone layer.
This layer absorbs ultra-violet radiation and shields life on the earth from intense, harmful form of energy.

The mesosphere lies above the stratosphere, which extends up to a height of 80 km.
In this layer, once again, temperature starts decreasing with the increase in altitude and reaches up to minus 100
C at the height of 80 km.
The upper limit of mesosphere is known as the mesopause.
The ionosphere is located between 80 and 400 km above the mesopause.
It contains electrically charged particles known as ions, and hence, it is known as ionosphere
Radio waves transmitted from the earth are reflected back to the earth by this layer.
Temperature here starts increasing with height.


The uppermost layer of the atmosphere above the ionosphere is known as the exosphere.
This is the highest layer but very little is known about it.
Whatever contents are there, these are extremely rarefied in this layer, and it gradually merges with the outer
Although all layers of the atmosphere must be exercising influence on us, geographers are concerned with the
first two layers of the atmosphere.



1. We live at the bottom of a huge pile of air.

2. We inhale and exhale but we feel the air when it is in motion
3. Air in motion is wind
4. Earth is surrounded by air all around
5. This envelop of air is atmosphere which is composed of numerous gases
6. These gases support life over the earths surface
7. The earth receives almost all of its energy from the sun.
8. The earth in turn radiates back to space the energy received from the sun.
9. As a result, the earth neither warms up nor does it get cooled over a period of time.
10. Thus, the amount of heat received by different parts of the earth is not the same.
11. This variation causes pressure differences in the atmosphere.
12. This leads to transfer of heat from one region to the other by winds.


1. The earths surface receives most of its energy in short wavelengths.

2. The energy received by the earth is known as incoming solar radiation which in short is termed as insolation
3. The earth is a geoid resembling a sphere the suns rays fall obliquely at the top of the atmosphere
4. The earth intercepts a very small portion of the suns energy.
5. On an average the earth receives 1.94 calories per sq. cm per minute at the top of its atmosphere.
6. The solar output received at the top of the atmosphere varies slightly in a year.
7. Due to the variations in the distance between the earth and the sun.
8. The earth is farthest from the sun (152 million km on 4th July).This position of the earth is called aphelion.
9. On 3rd January, the earth is the nearest to the sun (147 million km). This position is called perihelion.
10. The annual insolation received by the earth on 3rd January is slightly more than the amount received on 4th
11. However, the effect of this variation in the solar output is masked by other factors like the distribution of land
and sea and the atmospheric circulation.
12. This variation in the solar output does not have great effect on daily weather changes on the surface of the

The amount and the intensity of insolation vary during a day, in a season and in a year.
The factors that cause these variations in insolation are;
The rotation of earth on its axis
The angle of inclination of the suns rays
The length of the day
The transparency of the atmosphere
The earths axis makes an angle of 66 with the plane of its orbit round the sun has a greater influence on the
amount of insolation received at different latitudes.
It also impact length of the Day in Hours and Minutes on winter and Summer Solstices in the Northern
Second factor that determines the amount of insolation received is the angle of inclination
of the rays.
This depends on the latitude of a place.
The higher the latitude the less is the angle they make with the surface of the earth resulting in slant sun rays.
If more area is covered, the energy gets distributed and the net energy received per unit area decreases.
The slant rays are required to pass through greater depth of the atmosphere resulting in more absorption,
scattering and diffusion.
The atmosphere is largely transparent to short wave solar radiation.
The incoming solar radiation passes through the atmosphere before striking the earths surface.
Within the troposphere water vapour, ozone and other gases absorb much of the near infrared radiation.
Very small-suspended particles in the troposphere scatter visible spectrum both to the space and towards the
earth surface.
This process adds colour to the sky.
The red colour of the rising and the setting sun and the blue colour of the sky are the result of scattering of
light within the atmosphere.
The insolation received at the surface varies from about 320 Watt/m 2 in the tropics to about 70 Watt/m 2in the
Maximum insolation is received over the subtropical deserts, where the cloudiness is the least.
At the same latitude the insolation is more over the continent than over the oceans.
In winter, the middle and higher latitudes receive less radiation than in summer.
Heating and cooling of atmosphere
There are different ways of heating and cooling of the atmosphere.
The air in contact with the land gets heated slowly and the upper layers in contact with the lower layers also get
This process is called conduction.
Conduction takes place when two bodies of unequal temperature are in contact with one another
There is a flow of energy from the warmer to cooler body.
The transfer of heat continues until both the bodies attain the same temperature or the contact is broken.
Conduction is important in heating the lower layers of the atmosphere
The air in contact with the earth rises vertically on heating in the form of currents and further transmits the heat
of the atmosphere.
This process of vertical heating of the atmosphere is known as convection.
The convective transfer of energy is confined only to the troposphere.
The transfer of heat through horizontal movement of air is called advection.
Horizontal movement of the air is relatively more important than the vertical movement.
In middle latitudes, most of diurnal (day and night) variations in daily weather are caused
by advection alone.
In tropical regions particularly in northern India during summer season local winds called loo is the outcome
of advection process.
Terrestrial radiation
The insolation received by the earth is in short waves forms and heats up its surface.
The earth after being heated itself becomes a radiating body and it radiates energy to the atmosphere in long
wave form.
This energy heats up the atmosphere from below. This process is known as terrestrial radiation.
The long wave radiation is absorbed by the atmospheric gases particularly by carbon dioxide and the other
green house gases.
Thus, the atmosphere is indirectly heated by the earths radiation.
The atmosphere in turn radiates and transmits heat to the space.
Finally the amount of heat received from the sun is returned to space, thereby maintaining constant temperature
at the earths surface and in the atmosphere.

The earth as a whole does not accumulate or loose heat.

It maintains its temperature.
This can happen only if the amount of heat received in the form of insolation equals the amount lost by the
earth through terrestrial radiation.
Consider that the insolation received at the top of the atmosphere is 100 per cent.
While passing through the atmosphere some amount of energy is reflected, scattered and absorbed.
Only the remaining part reaches the earth surface.
Roughly 35 units are reflected back to space even before reaching the earths surface.
Of these, 27 units are reflected back from the top of the clouds.
2 units from the snow and ice-covered areas of the earth
The reflected amount of radiation is called the albedo of the earth.
The remaining 65 units are absorbed, 14 units within the atmosphere and 51 units by the earths surface.
The earth radiates back 51 units in the form of terrestrial radiation.
Of these, 17 units are radiated to space directly and the remaining 34 units are absorbed by the atmosphere
6 units absorbed directly by the atmosphere, 9 units through convection and turbulence 19 units through latent
heat of condensation
48 units absorbed by the atmosphere, 14 units from insolation +34 units from terrestrial radiation are also
radiated back into space.
The total radiation returning from the earth and the atmosphere respectively is 17+48=65 units which balance
the total of 65 units received from the sun.
This is termed the heat budget or heat balance of the earth
This explains why the earth neither warms up nor cools down despite the huge transfer of heat that takes place.


1. As explained earlier, there are variations in the amount of radiation received at the earths surface.
2. Some part of the earth has surplus radiation balance while the other part has deficit.
1. The interaction of insolation with the atmosphere and the earths surface creates heat which is measured in
terms of temperature.
2. While heat represents the molecular movement of particles comprising a substance
3. The temperature is the measurement in degrees of how hot (or cold) a thing (or a place) is.


The temperature of air at any place is influenced by

The latitude of the place
The altitude of the place
Distance from the sea
The air mass circulation
The presence of warm and cold ocean currents
Local aspects


1. The temperature of a place depends on the insolation received

2. It has been explained earlier that the insolation varies according to the latitude hence the temperature also
varies accordingly.

1. The atmosphere is indirectly heated by terrestrial radiation from below

2. The places near the sea-level record higher temperature than the places situated at higher elevations
3. The temperature generally decreases with increasing height.
4. The rate of decrease of temperature with height is termed as the normal lapse rate. 5. It is 6.5C per 1,000 m.

1. Another factor that influences the temperature is the location of a place with respect to the sea
2. Compared to land, the sea gets heated slowly and loses heat slowly
3. Land heats up and cools down quickly
4. The variation in temperature over the sea is less compared to land.
5. The places situated near the sea come under the moderating influence of the sea and land breezes which
moderate the temperature.

1. Like the land and sea breezes, the passage of air masses also affects the temperature.
2. The places, which come under the influence of warm air-masses experience higher temperature and the places
3. The places that come under the influence of cold air masses experience low temperature
4. The places located on the coast where the warm ocean currents flow record higher temperature
5. The places located on the coast where the cold currents flow record lower temperature

The global distribution of temperature can well be understood by studying the temperature distribution in
January and July
The temperature distribution is generally shown on the map with the help of isotherms.
The Isotherms are lines joining places having equal temperature.
The effect of the latitude on temperature is well pronounced on the map
As the isotherms are generally parallel to the latitude
The deviation from this general trend is more pronounced in January than in July especially in the northern
In the northern hemisphere the land surface area is much larger than in the southern hemisphere
The effects of land mass and the ocean currents are well pronounced
In January the isotherms deviate to the north over the ocean and to the south over the continent
This can be seen on the North Atlantic Ocean.
The presence of warm ocean currents, Gulf Stream and North Atlantic drift, make the Northern Atlantic Ocean
warmer and the isotherms bend towards the north.
Over the land the temperature decreases sharply and the isotherms bend towards south in Europe.
It is much pronounced in the Siberian plain.
The mean January temperature along 60 E longitude is minus 20 C both at 80 N and 50 N latitudes.
The mean monthly temperature for January is over 27 C, in equatorial oceans over 24 C in the tropics and 2
C - 0 C in the middle latitudes.
Its 18 C to 48 C in the Eurasian continental interior.
The effect of the ocean is well pronounced in the southern hemisphere.
Here the isotherms are more or less parallel to the latitudes
The variation in temperature is more gradual than in the northern hemisphere.
The isotherm of 20 C, 10 C, and 0 C runs parallel to 35 S, 45 S and 60 S latitudes respectively.
The equatorial oceans record warmer temperature, more than 27C
Over the land more than 30C is noticed in the subtropical continental region of Asia, along the 30 N latitude.
Along the 40 N runs the isotherm of 10 C and along the 40 S the temperature is 10 C.
The highest range of temperature is more than 60 C over the north-eastern part of Eurasian continent.
This is due to continentality.
The least range of temperature, 3C, is found between 20 S and 15 N.

1. Air expands when heated and gets compressed when cooled.

2. The result is that it causes the movement of air from high pressure to low pressure setting the air in motion
3. Atmospheric pressure also determines when the air will rise or sink
4. The wind redistributes the heat and moisture across the planet.
5. Maintaining a constant temperature for the planet as a whole.
6. The vertical rising of moist air cools it down to form the clouds and bring precipitation.
Atmospheric pressure
1. Our body is subjected to a lot of air pressure.
2. As one moves up the air gets varified and one feels breathless.
3. The weight of a column of air contained in a unit area from the mean sea level to the top of the atmosphere is
called the atmospheric pressure.
4. The widely used unit is kilo Pascal written as hPa.
5. At sea level the average atmospheric pressure is 1,013.2 mb or 1,013.2 hPa.
6. The air at the surface is denser and hence has higher pressure.


1. Air pressure is measured with the help of a mercury barometer or the aneroid barometer.
2. At any elevation it varies from place to place and its variation is the primary cause of air motion
Vertical variation of pressure
1. The decrease amounts to about 1 mb for each 10 m increase in elevation.
2. It does not always decrease at the same rate.
3. It is generally balanced by a nearly equal but opposite gravitational force
4. We do not experience strong upward winds
Horizontal distribution of pressure
1. Small differences in pressure are highly significant in terms of the wind direction and velocity.
2. Horizontal distribution of pressure is studied by drawing isobars at constant levels
4. It is measured at any station after being reduced to sea level for purposes of comparison.
5. Low pressure system is enclosed by one or more isobars with the lowest pressure in the centre.
6. High-pressure system is also enclosed by one or more isobars with the highest pressure in the centre.
World distribution of sea level pressure
1. The world distribution of sea level pressure in January and July.
2. Near the equator the sea level pressure is low and the area is known as equatorial low.
3. Along 30 N and 30 S are found the high-pressure areas known as the subtropical highs.
4. Further pole wards along 60 o N and 60o S, the low-pressure belts are termed as the sub polar lows.
5. These pressure belts are not permanent in nature
6. They oscillate with the apparent movement of the sun.
7. In the northern hemisphere in winter they move southwards and in the summer northwards.
Forces affecting the velocity and direction of wind
1. The air is set in motion due to the differences in atmospheric pressure.
2. The wind blows from high pressure to low pressure.
3. The wind at the surface experiences friction.
4. In addition, rotation of the earth also affects the wind movement.
5. The force exerted by the rotation of the earth is known as the Coriolis force.
6. Thus, the horizontal winds near the earth surface respond to the combined effect of three forces the pressure
gradient force, the frictional force and the Coriolis force.
7. In addition, the gravitational force acts downward.

1. The differences in atmospheric pressure produce a force

2. The pressure gradient is strong where the isobars are close to each other and is weak where the isobars are

It affects the speed of the wind. It is greatest at the surface

Its influence generally extends up to an elevation of 1 - 3 km.
The rotation of the earth about its axis affects the direction of the wind.
It deflects the wind to the right direction in the northern hemisphere,to the left in the southern hemisphere.
The deflection is more when the wind velocity is high.
The Coriolis force is directly proportional to the angle of latitude.
It is maximum at the poles and is absent at the equator.
The Coriolis force acts perpendicular to the pressure gradient force.
The pressure gradient force is perpendicular to an isobar.
The higher the pressure gradient force, the more is the velocity of the wind and the larger is the deflection in
the direction of wind.
As a result of these two forces operating perpendicular to each other, in the low-pressure areas
The wind blows around it.
At the equator, the Coriolis force is zero and the wind blows perpendicular to the isobars.
The low pressure gets filled instead of getting intensified.
That is the reason why tropical cyclones are not formed near the equator.

The velocity and direction of the wind are the net result of the wind generating forces.
The winds in the upper atmosphere, 2 - 3 km above the surface, are free from frictional effect of the surface and
are controlled by the pressure gradient and the Coriolis force.
When isobars are straight and when there is no friction
The pressure gradient force is balanced by the Coriolis force and the resultant wind blows parallel to the isobar.
This wind is known as the geostrophic wind.
Around a high it is called anti cyclonic circulation.
The direction of winds around such systems changes according to their location in different hemispheres.
Generally, over low pressure area the air will converge and rise.
Over high pressure area the air will subside from above and diverge at the surface, which is essential for the
formation of clouds and precipitation.

General circulation of the atmosphere widely depend upon

Latitudinal variation of atmospheric heating
Emergence of pressure belts
The migration of belts following apparent path of the sun
The distribution of continents and oceans
The rotation of earth
The pattern of the movement of the planetary winds is called the general circulation of the atmosphere.
It influences the earths climate.
The air at the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) rises because of convection caused by high insolation
and a low pressure is created.
The winds from the tropics converge at this low pressure zone.
The converged air rises along with the convective cell.
It reaches the top of the troposphere up to an altitude of 14 km. and moves towards the poles.
This causes accumulation of air at about 30 degree N and S.
Part of the accumulated air sinks to the ground and forms a subtropical high.
Another reason for sinking is the cooling of air when it reaches 30 degree N and S latitudes.
Down below near the land surface the air flows towards the equator as the easterlies.
The easterlies from either side of the equator converge in the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ).
Such circulations from the surface upwards and vice-versa are called cells.
In the middle latitudes the circulation is that of sinking cold air that comes from the poles and the rising warm
air that blows from the subtropical high.
At the surface these winds are called westerlies and the cell is known as the Ferrel cell.
At polar latitudes the cold dense air subsides near the poles and blows towards middle latitudes as the polar
This cell is called the polar cell.
These three cells set the pattern for the general circulation of the atmosphere.
The transfer of heat energy from lower latitudes to higher latitudes maintains the general circulation
The general circulation of the atmosphere also affects the oceans.
The large-scale winds of the atmosphere initiate large and slow moving currents of the ocean.
Oceans in turn provide input of energy and water vapour into the air.
These interactions take place rather slowly over a large part of the ocean.
General Atmospheric Circulation and its Effects on Oceans
Warming and cooling of the Pacific Ocean is most important in terms of general atmospheric circulation.
The warm water of the central Pacific Ocean slowly drifts towards South American coast and replaces the cool
Peruvian current.
The El Nino event is closely associated with the pressure changes in the Central Pacific and Australia.
This change in pressure condition over Pacific is known as the southern oscillation.
The combined phenomenon of southern oscillation and El Nino is known as ENSO.
The arid west coast of South America receives heavy rainfall; drought occurs in Australia and sometimes in
India and floods in China.


The pattern of wind circulation is modified in different seasons due to the shifting of regions of maximum
heating, pressure and wind belts
The most pronounced effect of such a shift is noticed in the monsoons, especially over Southeast Asia.
Differences in the heating and cooling of earth surfaces and the cycles those develop daily annually can create
several common, local or regional winds.
Land and sea breezes
The land and sea absorb and transfer heat differently
During the day the land heats up faster and becomes warmer than the sea.
Therefore, over the land the air raises giving rise to a low pressure area, whereas the sea is relatively cool and
the pressure over sea is relatively high.
Thus, pressure gradient from sea to land is created and the wind blows from the sea to the land as the sea
In the night the reversal of condition takes place.
The land loses heat faster and is cooler than the sea.
The pressure gradient is from the land to the sea and hence land breeze results.

In mountainous regions, during the day the slopes get heated up and air moves upslope and to fill the resulting
gap the air from the valley blows up the valley.
This wind is known as the valley breeze.

The cool air, of the high plateaus and ice fields draining into the valley is called katabatic wind.
Another type of warm wind occurs on the leeward side of the mountain ranges.
The moisture in these winds, while crossing the mountain ranges condenses and precipitates.
When it descends down the leeward side of the slope the dry air gets warmed up by
This dry air may melt the snow in a short time.
Air masses
When the air remains over a homogenous area for a sufficiently longer time
It acquires the characteristics of the area.
The homogenous regions can be the vast ocean surface or vast plains.
The air with distinctive characteristics in terms of temperature and humidity is called an
It is defined as a large body of air having little horizontal variation in temperature and moisture.
The homogenous surfaces, over which air masses form, are called the source regions.
The air masses are classified according to the source regions
Tropical air masses are warm and polar air masses are cold There are five major source regions.
Warm tropical and subtropical oceans
The subtropical hot deserts
The relatively cold high latitude oceans
The very cold snow covered continents in high latitudes
Permanently ice covered continents in the Arctic and Antarctica.
Maritime tropical (mT)
Continental tropical (cT)
Maritime polar (mP)
Continental polar (cP)
Continental arctic (cA)
When two different air masses meet the boundary zone between them is called a front
The process of formation of the fronts is known as frontogenesis.
There are four types of fronts
Occluded front
1. When the front remains stationary, it is called a stationary front
2. When the cold air moves towards the warm air mass, its contact zone is called the cold front
3. whereas if the warm air mass moves towards the cold air mass, the contact zone is a warm front.
4. If an air mass is fully lifted above the land surface, it is called the occluded front.
5. The fronts occur in middle latitudes and are characterised by steep gradient in temperature and pressure.
6. They bring abrupt changes in temperature and cause the air to rise to form clouds and cause precipitation.
Extra tropical cyclones
The systems developing in the mid and high latitude, beyond the tropics are called the middle latitude or extra
tropical cyclones.
The passage of front causes abrupt changes in the weather conditions over the area in the middle and high

Extra tropical cyclones form along the polar front.

Initially, the front is stationary. In the northern hemisphere, warm air blows from the south and cold air from the
north of the front
When the pressure drops along the front, the warm air moves northwards and the cold air move towards, south
setting in motion ananticlockwise cyclonic circulation.
The cyclonic circulation leads to a well developed extra tropical cyclone with a warm front and a cold front.
In figure the plan and cross section of a well developed cyclone is given
There are pockets of warm air or warm sector wedged between the forward and the rear cold air or cold sector.
The warm air glides over the cold air and a sequence of clouds appear over the sky ahead of the warm front and
cause precipitation.
The cold front approaches the warm air from behind and pushes the warm air up.
The cold front moves faster than the warm front ultimately overtaking the warm front.
The warm air is completely lifted up and the front is occluded and the cyclone dissipates.
The processes of wind circulation both at the surface and aloft are closely interlinked
The extra tropical cyclone differs from the tropical cyclone in number of ways.
The extra tropical cyclones have a clear frontal system which is not present in the tropical cyclones.
They cover a larger area and can originate over the land and sea.
Whereas the tropical cyclones originate only over the seas and on reaching the land they dissipate.
The extra tropical cyclone affects a much larger area as compared to the tropical cyclone.
The wind velocity in a tropical cyclone is much higher and it is more destructive.
The extra tropical cyclones move from west to east but tropical cyclones, move from east to west.
Tropical cyclones
Tropical cyclones are violent storms that originate over oceans in tropical areas and move over to the coastal
Bringing about large scale destruction caused by violent winds, very heavy rainfall and storm surges.
This is one of the most devastating natural calamities. They are known as Cyclones in the Indian
Ocean, Hurricanes in the Atlantic, Typhoons in the Western Pacific and South China Sea, and Willy-
willies in the Western Australia.
Tropical cyclones originate and intensify over warm tropical oceans.

Large sea surface with temperature higher than 27 C

Presence of the Coriolis force
Small variations in the vertical wind speed
A pre-existing weak low-pressure area or low-level-cyclonic circulation
Upper divergence above the sea level system.

The energy that intensifies the storm, comes from the condensation process
In the towering cumulonimbus clouds, surrounding the centre of the storm.
With continuous supply of moisture from the sea, the storm is further strengthened.
On reaching the land the moisture supply is cut off and the storm dissipates.
The place where a tropical cyclone crosses the coast is called the landfall of the cyclone.
The cyclones, which cross 20 degree N latitude generally, recurve and they are more destructive.
1. The diameter of the circulating system can vary between 150 and 250 km.
2. The eye is a region of calm with subsiding air.
3. Around the eye is the eye wall, where there is a strong spiralling ascent of air to greater height reaching the

The wind reaches maximum velocity in this region, reaching as high as 250 km per hour
Torrential rain occurs here. From the eye wall rain bands may radiate and trains of cumulus and cumulonimbus
clouds may drift into the outer region.
The diameter of the storm over the Bay of Bengal, Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean is between 600 -1200 km.
The system moves slowly about 300 - 500 km per day.
The cyclone creates storm surges and they inundate the coastal low lands. The storm peters out on the land.
Thunderstorms and tornadoes
Other severe local storms are thunderstorms and tornadoes.
They are of short duration, occurring over a small area but are violent.
Thunderstorms are caused by intense convection on moist hot days.

A thunderstorm is a well-grown cumulonimbus cloud producing thunder and lightning.

When the clouds extend to heights where sub-zero temperature prevails, hails are formed and they come down
as hailstorm.
If there is insufficient moisture, a thunderstorm can generate duststorms.
A thunderstorm is characterised by intense updraft of rising warm air, which causes the clouds to grow bigger.
This causes precipitation. Later, downdraft brings down to earth the cool air and the rain.
From severe thunderstorms sometimes spiralling wind descends like a trunk of an elephant with great force.
Process of formation (tornado)
1. Tornadoes generally occur in middle latitudes. The tornado over the sea is called water sprouts.
2. These violent storms are the manifestation of the atmospheres adjustments to varying energy distribution.
3. The potential and heat energies are converted into kinetic energy in these storms and the restless atmosphere
again returns to its stable state.


Atmospheric humidity refers to the content of water in gaseous form in a parcel of air having definite volume
and temperature at a particular time and place.
It is obtained through various processes of evaporation from the land and water surfaces of the earth.
The humidity or vapour content in the atmosphere ranges between zeros to 5 percent by volume.
Climatically water is very important constituent of the atmosphere.
Vapour depends on temperature and therefore it decreases from the equator towards the poles.
The content of vapour in the surface air in the moist tropical areas, at 50 and 70 latitude is
2.6 percent, 0.9 percent and 0.2 percent (by volume) respectively.
More than 90 percent of the total atmospheric vapour (humidity) is found up to the altitude of 5 Km.
If there is a condensation of all the atmospheric vapour at a time, there would result a 2.5 cm thick layer of water
around the earth.
This meagre amount of water vapour is responsible for various types of weather phenomenon.
The moisture content in the atmosphere creates several forms of condensation and precipitation e.g. dew, fog,
cloud, rainfall, frost, ice, snowfall, hailstorms etc.
Vapour is almost transparent to incoming solar radiation, but it is less transparent for outgoing short waves
terrestrial radiation.
Therefore it helps in heating the earths surface and lower portion of atmosphere because it absorbs terrestrial
radiation back to the earths surface.
It is also the evident that water vapour also helps in intensifying green house effect of the atmosphere.
The process of transformation of liquid water into gaseous form is called evaporation.
A stable air becomes saturated soon because there is no transfer of moisture while unstable air attains saturation
quite late because there is much transfer of moisture.
There is more evaporation from oceanic surfaces than from the surfaces.
There is maximum evaporation from the lands between 10 north and 10 south latitudes.
There is maximum evaporation from the oceans between 10 20 latitude in both the hemispheres.
The process of conversion of vapour into liquid (water) and solid from (ice, snow, frost) is called condensation.
It is apparent that evaporation and condensation are opposite processes.
Some concept under evaporation process
1. Sublimation the process of transformation of solid (ice) directly into gaseous from (water vapour), by the use
of heat energy.
2. Latent heat of vaporisation heat energy required to transform water into water vapour through evaporation.
Latent means hidden
3. Latent heat of sublimation the heat energy spent in transforming ice into water vapour
Rate of evaporation

There are spatial temporal variations in the rate and amount of evaporation due to a host of factors:
Vapour pressure of water surface
Vapour pressure of the air
Wind velocity
Salinity of water bodies
1. It depends on the temperature of the water surface
2. It is difference between the temperature of water surface and air temperature which motivates the process of v
1. It represents the pressure exerted by water vapour of a given parcel of air.
2. The greater the vapour pressures of a parcel of air, the lower the rate of evaporation and vice versa.

1. It is directly positively related to the rate of evaporation.

2. Greater the wind velocity, higher the rate of evaporation and slower the wind velocity, lower the rate of

1. Salt content in different water bodies is inversely related to the rate of evaporation.
2. Higher the salt content in water, the lower the rate of evaporation and lower the salinity and vice versa.
Some concepts under condensation
1. The process and mechanism of condensation depends upon the amount of relative humidity present in the air.
2. The air having 100 percent relative humidity is called saturated air.
3. The temperature at which an air becomes saturated is called dew point. The condensation depends upon
The percentage of relative humidity of the air
The degree of cooling of the air
Forms of condensation
Condensation of water vapour around hygroscopic nuclei results ultimately in the formation of water droplets.

Nature of moist air

Rate and mode of cooling of ascending air
Temperature of air
Nature and rate of movement of air
Nature and amount of hygroscopic nuclei
Places of condensation

1. Near the ground surface -

2. Up in the air above ground surface
Condensation near the ground surface
1. The ground level condensation occur in several forms, depending upon local environmental conditions
2. Of which climatically important are dew, frost, rime, mist, fog etc.
It refers to direct deposition of water vapour into without hygroscopic nuclei on the surfaces of object on the
It happens after the condensation of moist air caused by radiation and contact cooling of air lying above the
ground surface.
The necessary condition for dew formation include high relative humidity, almost calm air with low wind
velocity, suitable radiating surface, effective nocturnal radiation.

It is defined as transformation of gaseous form of water (water vapour) directly into solid form (the process
being called sublimation) at the ground surface
It occurs in the soils and the air layer just lying over the ground surface due to condensation occurring below
freezing point.
It is generally divided into two forms namely (i) ground frost and (ii) air frost
When the ice sheets as a result of frost formation are deposited on roads the resultant frost is called black ice or
glazed frost.

It is an opaque coating of tiny white, granular ice particle, caused by rapid freezing of super cooled water
droplets on impact with an object below freezing point
Rime is deposited mainly on the edges and points of objects.
These are formed when condensation occurs above freezing point in the air lying just over the ground surface
around tiny hygroscopic nuclei.
These are the suspended water droplets in the air which reduce visibility.
The difference between mist and fog is related to the size of suspended water droplets.

It is caused by adiabatic cooling of ascending moist air results in the formation of clouds
They are defined as aggregates of innumerable tiny water droplets, ice particles or mixture of both in the air
above the ground surface.
Clouds are formed due to condensation of water vapour around the hygroscopic nuclei caused by cooling due to
lifting of moist air and consequent expansion volume.
Other forms of condensation

The fall of larger snowflakes from the clouds on the ground surface.
Snowfall is precipitation of white and opaque grains of ice; it occurs when freezing level is so close to the
ground surface (less than 300m from the surface).
The aggregation of ice crystals reach the ground without being melted in a solid form of precipitation as snow.

1. It refers to a mixture of snow and rain but in American terminology sleet means falling of small pellets of transparent
or translucent ice having a diameter of 5 mm or less.

It consist of large pallets or spheres of ice, it is a form of solid precipitation wherein small balls or pieces of ice
know as hailstones.
It is having a diameter of 5 to 50 mm fall downward known as hailstorms


1. The fall of numerous minute droplets of water having diameter of less than 0.5 mm
2. It fall continuously from low stratus cloud, but total amount of water received on the ground surface is
significantly low.