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Rocky Mountain Geology

In the mountains, the rocks are the foundation upon which everything else is built. The plants take advantage of these landforms, and the animals adapt to habitats made up of a combination of habitat and vegetation.

Mountain Geology

Discussions of Rocky Mountain Geology are often broken into the following three major stages.

Sedimentation / Deposition. Learning to understand the mountains begins with understanding the rocks that make up the Rocky Mountains.

Uplift / Mountain Building. Shifting continental plates have created periods of mountain building, changing a level plain into a spectacular mountain landscape. 

The sculpting of the mountains. From the moment the Rockies emerged from the ancient oceans, the agents of water and ice have been wearing them down and sculpting their rugged face. 

Learn your Landforms

The mountain landscape tells a tale of changing climates, rising and falling oceans and the history of life on this planet. 

Landform Index. Select a landform from this alphabetical listing.

Identify a Landform by Type. Landforms grouped by type (e.g.. lake, glacier, waterfall, etc.)

River Mechanics. Moving water has the ability to carry with it particles of rock and debris. This sediment helps to dissect the mountains into individual peaks, ranges and summits. 

Waterfalls. The steep slopes and high cliffs in the Rockies make for some dramatic waterfalls.

Mountain Lakes. The Rockies have become known for the fabulous colour of the many lakes that dot the landscape.  

Glaciers and Icefields. Periodic shifts in climate have created periods where snow accumulated into huge sheets of ice. Today's glaciers are a reminder of these great glacial ages.

Mountain Canyons. Narrow canyons are a rare and beautiful feature in the Rockies. Famous canyons like Johnston, Maligne and Marble canyons are some of the mountains most photographed landforms.

Caves & Karst. Limestone and caves go hand in hand. The Rocky Mountains are home to an extensive series of caves including the deepest cave in North America and the longest cave system in Canada.

Hot Springs. It was the hot springs around the town of Banff that resulted in the creation of Canada's first National Park. Learn the secrets of these therapeutic springs.

Fossils. The mountains contain records of creatures that perished hundreds of millions of years ago. Learn more about the fascinating fossil record of the Rocky Mountains.


All Material Ward Cameron 2005