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What is relief?

The relief consists of the shapes of the planet's surface and can be influenced by internal and external agents.

In simplest terms, it is the modeling of the earth's crust. Their related terms refer to differences in both shape and altitude in relation to sea level. These terms are also related to their constitution, origin, stage, age, and so on.

Relief Types

The types of relief are the surface aspects of the globe. The constitution of the different relief forms is due to the action of the internal or endogenous agents - which accentuate the relief - and also the external or exogenous agents - which attenuate and sculpt the relief. The relief can come in many forms. The main ones are: mountain ranges, mountain ranges, plateaus, plains and depressions.


These are elevations of the terrain, usually formed by clusters of hills. Most are made up of internal agents. However, there are mountains that, because they are very old, are no longer in the process of construction, but erosion. They can present considerable altitudes, rugged relief and the formation of valleys. They are linked to failed plateaus.

The Himalayan Mountain Range is the highest mountain range in the world.


They are elongated reliefs with irregular tops, sometimes isolated. These are ancient mountain ranges that suffer a marked erosion process and later fail.

Serra do Rio Grande do Sul


Elevated surfaces with smooth undulations, standing out from the border areas. They are usually delimited by escarpments. The main feature of a plateau is that the erosion process surpasses that of sedimentation. The typical plateaus are of sedimentary structure and can also be formed by the elevation of magmatic blocks.

Central Plateau of Brazil, which comprises some Brazilian states, including
Goiás, Minas Gerais, Tocantins (partially), Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul


Low-lying flat surfaces, the main feature being precisely the opposite of the plateaus: the sedimentation process surpasses that of erosion. They can be characterized according to the agent responsible for their formation: coastal or marine, river, lake and glacial plain.

Argentina plain


These are recessed areas in relation to the surrounding reliefs. Its origin may be linked to erosion or sinking processes caused by failures.

Depression located in Ponta Delgada, Azores

Other types of reliefs

  • Ocean Dorsals: Also called submarine dorsal, meso-oceanic dorsal or mid-ocean ridge, is the name given to the great submerged mountain ranges in the ocean, which originate from the distancing of the tectonic plates.
  • Fossa oceanic: are the deepest regions of the oceans. They are large depressions that form below the continental slope, in tectonic plate meeting zones, where one of these plates plunges under the other.
  • Flat land abyssal: is the name given to the extensive oceanic zones of horizontal surface lying at a depth between 4000 and 5000 meters.
  • Island: is a prolongation of the relief, located in an absolute depression filled with water all around it.
  • Underwater volcanoes: These are cracks in the ocean floor, which may cause magma eruption.
  • Continental slope: is the portion of the ocean floor with very steep slope. It is between the continental shelf and the continental margin.
  • Continental shelf: is the portion of the seafloor that begins at the shoreline and descends with a gentle slope to the continental slope. On average, the continental shelf descends to a depth of 200 meters.