Mountain Building (6-12)
Lesson 2: How to Make a Mountain

How to Make a Mountain

There are four activities in this lesson. Students investigate how the shape of mountains can vary and how that shape provides evidence about its origin and history.


Concepts and learning outcomes


Students will understand that:

  • Geologic forces that form and shape mountains are both constructive and destructive.
  • The shape of a mountain provides evidence about its formation and history.
    • The shape of non-volcanic mountains is determined by their tectonic setting.
      • Where plates collide, compressional forces cause folded and thrust fault mountains.
      • Where plates are pulling apart, tensional forces result in fault block mountains
    • The shape of volcanoes is determined by the viscosity of the magma.

Time requirements

Five 50-minute class periods


Vocabulary


Viscosity, orogeny, tension, compression, syncline, anticline, normal fault, reverse or thrust fault, horst, graben, tensional forces, compression, shear


Background for teachers


Some of the activities use the terms compression, shear, tension. If you have not yet introduced these ideas to your class, you can find additional information at Forces in the Earth.

Additional information on mountain building can be found at Mountains; an illustrated pdf copy can be downloaded and printed from this website. Requires Adobe Reader to open.

We have provided additional background information in the Teacher Tip section of each of the activities in this lesson.

Students record their ideas in the Mountain Building Journal and we provide suggested answers in the Mountain Building Journal: Teacher's Guide.


Activities


  1. Investigating Shape: Students investigate how the shape of mountains can vary and how that shape provides evidence about its origin and history.
  2. Folded Mountains: Students investigate compressional forces that cause rocks to bend (fold) and break (faulting).
  3. Fault Block Mountains: Students investigate forces that cause sinking or rising of huge blocks of the earth's surface relative to the neighboring blocks.
  4. How Thick Is It? Viscosity and Volcanoes: Students investigate viscosity and how it affects the shapes of volcanic mountains.


Resources used

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