Tectonics, Weathering & Erosion

There is a strong correlation between landforms, tectonics (the lithosphere) and climate (the hydrosphere and the atmosphere). This is one of the exciting recent developments in the study of mountain building processes.   The Himalayas Through detailed studies of rain and snowfall patterns from weather stations and satellite records, scientists have created detailed records showing [...]

Compressional Tectonics

The Himalayan Mountains were formed when India crashed into Asia, a process known as compressional tectonics. Take a look at the first section of When Continents Collide from geocraft.com, which includes an animation on continental collisions. In southwest Montana, tectonic compression occurred before most of our current landscape was formed. Remnant compressional structures are found [...]

Transcurrent Tectonics

Where tectonic plates slide past each other, in a process called transcurrent tectonics, the landscape is dominated by long linear valleys and ridges. The classic example is the San Andreas Fault; for more on the San Andreas Fault, take a look at this article from geology.com on The San Andreas Fault. A Montana example is [...]

Tectonic Extension

East African Rift This long, deep valley that was the birthplace of Homo sapiens was created by tectonic forces that are pulling Africa apart, east to west, in a process known as tectonic extension. In time, the East Africa Rift will become a new ocean basin. For images and more detail, take a look at [...]

Tectonic Forces

Landscapes are formed by the various combinations of tectonic forces, weathering, erosion, and deposition. Plate tectonics are driven by gravity and the Earth’s heat. Heat from the Earth’s interior escapes through convection just like the convection you see in a pot of boiling water or in a lava lamp, only much m-u-c-h slower. Cold, dense [...]

The MSP project is funded by an ESEA, Title II Part B Mathematics and Science Partnership Grant through the Montana Office of Public Instruction. MSP was developed by the Clark Fork Watershed Education Program and faculty from Montana Tech of The University of Montana and Montana State University, with support from other Montana University System Faculty.