The Appalachain Mountains and Plate Tectonics

As most of us already know, the power of geologic forces is beyond our own comprehension at times. We learn about the occurrence of tsunami’s, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and even tornadoes and hurricanes, while they may be primarily meteorological, they have a strong geologic force. We were talking about how the Appalachain mountains were once at the coast of the North America. But how can this be because they are now hundreds of miles away from the coast. Some may think that the Appalachian mountains are part of an extinct area of the ring of fire, but that is obviously absurd. They are in fact and never were volcanicly active.  The area that comprises the Appalachians were all flat land. So how did they form and why are they no longer near the coast?

The formation of a mountain chain due to two masses of rock causing a structural disturbance is called an orogeny. This is what happened when the continents of Africa and North America collided into each other. It’s like taking the tips of your fingers and pushing them together; both fingers simply get pushed upward together. It’s the same thing as when the two continent crusts collide together. Both continents get pushed together causing a crumbling upward effect. With that said, the Appalachian Mountains have crust from both the North American and African continents. But these two continents are obviously not together anymore. This is also due to plate tectonics, but the direction they are moving are now opposite from each other. But when the two continents separated, why is the Appalachian mountains no longer near the coast?

That is simple. The land that is now the mountain chain, was once flat. This land was pushed upward and combined with coast of Africa. When these two continents split apart, some of the African coast left with the North American continent. This gave the continent a new coast and caused the Appalachian mountains to no longer be near the coast. What is now the east coast of North America, was once part of Africa.

Another thing to note about the Appalachain mountains is their current height. They are relatively small compared to the Rocky mountains and the Himalaya mountains. But they were not always small. The Appalachain mountain chain runs all the way from Alabama to New York. The chain in New York are nothing but mere mounds today. This entire chain however was as tall if not taller than the Himalaya mountain chain, including Everest. But the difference is the age. The Himalayas are relatively new compared to the Appalachain mountains. And the Himalayas are still growing every year due to the collision of India into southern Asia. And this is how the Appalachains were created, but they are no longer growing because there is no acting force to push them upward. They are actually being eroded by the rain water. So, while the Appalachain mountains shrink, the Himalayas grow. But keep in mind, rain water, too, is eroding the Himalayas. The rate of erosion is less than the rate the Himalayas are shooting upwards, which is why it is still considered growing.


Information Aquired:

From a documentary on the History Channel about the Appalachain mountain chain and the erosion signs seen in New York today.

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One Response to The Appalachain Mountains and Plate Tectonics

  1. wwhite2221 says:

    Imagine if the Appalachian mountains were still as tall as the Himalayas. We could be taking some serious weekend hikes. Too bad the wind and rain had to erode it down to 6000 feet.

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