Comment on the distribution of Fold Mountains (8 marks) Generally, Fold Mountains are found near destructive plate boundaries

on coastlines and they are a linear formation. They are created by the uplift and folding of tectonic plates as they move towards each other and collide. Sediments settled in depressions on the sea floor, geosynclines, gradually become compressed into sedimentary rock such as sandstone or limestone. As the plates move towards each other these layers of rock are forced upwards into a series of folds by the movement of tectonic plates. Where the rocks are folded upwards they are called anticlines, where there are downfolds they are called synclines. Sometimes overfolding can occur; the Alps for example, have severely folded into nappes. An example of Fold Mountains at a destructive plate boundary are the Andes, this is where oceanic crust meets continental. The plates are driven together by convection currents, caused by magma flow, and slab pull- gravitational pull acting on oceanic crust driving it into the asthenosphere; subduction occurs. The less dense plate bends up due to friction and plate movement. A number of other more minor events can take place which add to the formation of Fold Mountains. For example, sediment on the oceanic crust can be scraped onto the continental crust adding to its mass. Extrusion is also involved where acidic magma creates volcanoes and as the magma rises it solidifies and layers build up. Another process is hydration melting where oceanic crust breaks off and magma rises through the cracks and solidifies to form batholiths. Less frequently, fold mountains occur at the collision plate boundary of continental and continental crust: for example, the Himalayas. The Indo-Australian plate crashed into the Eurasian plate 24 million years ago. As the two plates have similar properties, neither plate is subducted. The under riding of Indo-Australian plate pushes continental crust up to form the high Tibetan plateau. Soft sediments of the ocean floor are scraped and pushed into the folds and thrust faults. The Himalayas are about 9000m tall and are still growing today. Sometimes Fold Mountains can occur at Island Arcs. Where oceanic meets oceanic the movement of two plates together, over millions of years, will push the island arc nearer to the continent. As this occurs the sediments on the seabed are folded up. What divides many of the fold mountain ranges is their age, some are ‘young (still growing) fold mountains’ and Fold Mountains over 200 million years old are ‘old fold mountains’. The Ural Mountains are over 250 million years old, making them an ‘old’ fold mountain. The Ural Mountains appear to be an exception to the trend as they do not exist near a coastline. This is because when western Siberia collided with eastern Baltica (to form Euramerica), to form the Ural Mountains, Europe and Siberia remained joined together. The reason for their pattern in shape is that Fold Mountains are formed by compression resulting from the convergence of two crustal plates. They are likely to be the outcome of crustal crumpling due to compressional forces exerted at the plate edges. Its highest peak is Mount Narodnaya, 1,895 m.

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