Table 4

. Checklist of meso-scale landforms defined within six macro-scale terrain types (Table 3) (adapted from Cvancara 1995)

1Restricted to the middle and base of slope
Landslide hillslope: scarps or cliffs above with debris accumulation zone
Talus: rock accumulation often forming a half-cone
2Associated with stream drainages
Plateau: large wide elevated flat area or ‘tableland’
Mesa: tableland smaller than a plateau
Butte: small isolated erosional remnant of a tableland or mesa
Monadnock: isolated erosional remnant on a low-relief plain
3Restricted to shorelines
Stack: isolated pinnacle or small island associated with sea cliffs
4Involves domed rock layers
Batholith: slow cooling massive magma intrusion at depth uplifting overlying strata
Laccolith: smaller magma intrusion at depth uplifting overlying strata
Diapiric structure: salt dome at depth and possibly migrating upwards, uplifting overlying structure
5In areas of hot springs or geysers
Travertine mound or cone: small mound of carbonate material
6Bordered by flat surface (terraces)
Terraced hill: human-created terraces from mining or farming
7In volcanic terrain
Volcano: cone of volcanic debris with a central and possibly a number of secondary vents
Volcanic plug: tower-like mass of rock that filled vent of an old volcano and has been exposed by erosion
Lava flow: hills created by a lava flow or ignimbrite (i.e. pyroclastic flow)
8Hills of rock different from the hills identified above
Exfoliation dome: rounded hill in a massive rock created by spalling (a physical weathering process)
Knoll: hill of resistant rock not covered previously
Pyramids: human-made structures
9Hill in glacial sediments
Kame: steep-sided cone of glacial outwash material
10In loose sand
Dune: wind-created feature, possibly still mobile, and found both inland in unvegetated areas and on the coast
Barchan: mobile crescent-shaped ridge of loose sand
Spoil tip: cone-shaped hill in loose unconsolidated mine waste
Land raise: mound created from general societal waste of various types
Burrows: human created mounds of archaeological importance; often created as burial sites
RIDGES (can be a subset within hills, or mountains, depending on elevation)
1Restricted to middle or base of slope
Landslide ridge: scarps or cliffs above with debris accumulation zone
2Associated with streams
Stream divide: high ground between two active streams
Levee: natural ridge on bank of rivers deposited during flood flows
Artificial levee: ridge of dredged debris or flood defence alongside river channel
3Associated with erosional rocky coasts
Sea arch: remnant of eroding cliff left as ridge before continued erosion creates a stack
4Associated with depositional coasts
Beach: accumulation of unconsolidated granular material parallel to shoreline
Spit: ridge of unconsolidated material projecting into open water
Bar: ridge of unconsolidated material across a bay
Tombolo: ridge of unconsolidated material connecting an island to the mainland
Barrier island: ridge of unconsolidated material separated from the coast by a lagoon
5Restricted to the mountains
Arête: sharp crested ridge between two half-bowl depression (cirques or corrie) resulting from adjacent valley glaciations
6On lava flows
Pressure ridge: normal to the flow movements; forms by squeezing up of semi-rigid surface lava
7Involving tilted rock layers
Hogback: rock layers steeply inclined
Cuesta or escarpment: rock layers gently inclined with a scarp and dip identifiable
8Rock ridge
Roche moutonnée: streamlined, ice-grooved rock ridge eroded by moving glacial ice
Dyke: upstanding ridge of resistant rock in an igneous dyke
9Glacial deposition features
Drumlin: egg-shaped low hill formed in glacial till; usually found in groups (drumlin field)
Moraine: unconsolidated accumulation mounds of glacial debris deposited at the front or sides of a glacier
Esker: sinuous, undulating ridge deposited by a sub-glacial stream
10In loose sand
Seif dune: long sinuous ridge of unconsolidated sand formed parallel to the main wind direction
Barchanoid: agglomeration of barchan dunes formed normal to main wind direction
11Human-made fill
Embankment: engineered ridge of compacted fill carrying roads or railways, or forming a dam for water or mine waste
Mountains typically occur in chains or ranges but can be found as isolated peaks; mountain peaks are often jagged as a result of mechanical weathering, or, in many areas, glacial erosion
1Volcanic rocks
Volcano: commonly an isolated peak
Batholith or dome: doming of overlying strata as a result of an igneous intrusion; in many instances overlying strata are eroded away leaving the igneous rock at the surface
2Folded and faulted sedimentary and metamorphic rock
Fold mountains: range of mountains, often in a long chain, associated with tectonic activity
3Straight and linear mountains with linear depression on one or both sides
Fault-block mountain: faulting along one or both sides of a mountain with adjoining depressions in the down-faulted blocks
4Flat-lying rock layers
Erosional mountain: primarily the result of differential erosion and uplift; can form a plateau or mesa
1Associated directly with streams
Floodplain: flat part of broad valley inundated during floods.
Stream terrace: benchlike remnant of former floodplain flanking valley walls (may be an erosional or depositional feature).
Delta plain: at mouth of present or former stream, slopes toward sea or lake; surface of delta
Alluvial plain: surface of alluvial fan or coalesced fans; also, any plain of alluvium or stream sediment
Outwash plain: adjacent to irregular mound and basin terrain of glacial moraines formed from meltwater stream sediment
2Allied with shorelines
Wave-cut bench or platform: slopes away from sea or lake cliff; forms marine terrace where raised above water level; formed in rock
Wave-built terrace: seaward or lakeward of wave-cut bench; not readily visible except if produced by former water body; formed from beach sediments
Tidal flat: area periodically covered and uncovered by rising and falling tide.
Coastal plain: slope towards sea, generally represents a former sea floor
Lake plain: former lake floor; associated with former shoreline features; comprises mostly silt and clay; commonly direct or indirect result of glacier formation and extension
3Restricted to lava flows
Lava field or plain: broad expanse underlain by lava flows; may be associated with volcanic cones; may contain subsurface lava tubes that can collapse
4Sedimentary plains not related to fluvial, coastal or volcanic activity
Till plain: made up of low hills and shallow, closed depressions; sometimes referred to as ground moraine; laid down under glacial ice
5Erosional plain
Pediment: planed rock surface sloping away from mountain front or cliff; may be veneered with stream sediment; usually associated with dry regions where the feature is more likely to be visible
Peneplain or pediplane: planed rock surface unrelated to mountain front or cliff, often with scattered erosional remnants (variously known as monadnocks, kopjes or inselbergs)
1Those restricted to soluble rocks
Solution valley: ends closed; most common in limestone regions; sinkholes and caves nearby
2Restricted to lava flows
Lava channel: for confined conveyance of lava; originally open at top
Lava tube collapse channel or pit: for confined conveyance of lava; secondary collapse of roof exposes it to sky
3Structurally controlled
Rift valley: bounded by steep cliff or linear mountains; result of faulting; valley occupies top of down-faulted block
4Associated with a drainage network
Stream valley: tributary valleys meet main valley that forms a local base level; narrow valley with V-shaped cross-valley profile; may be straight where it follows fracture or tilted rock layers; may lack stream (dry valley), or a stream that is relatively small for the size of valley (i.e. a misfit), as found in an abandoned glacial meltwater valley
Meander scar: part of curved abandoned stream bend in broad valley; oxbow or cut-off lake if filled with water
Glacial valley: tributary valleys meet main valley above its level; cross-valley profile approximately U-shaped, bottom may be flattened from sediment infill; may be secondarily occupied by stream; fjord is drowned glacial valley with a distinctive long profile
5Human-made valleys
Cutting: linear excavation associated with roads or railways
Ditch, trench, canal, channel: sides even; may be lined with rock, concrete, or other material; for irrigation, drainage, or channel diversion
Most basins are wholly or partly filled with either sediment or water that forms lakes and ponds
1In rock
Pothole: usually deeper than wide, in stream channel at sites of present or former waterfalls and rapids; worn by sand and gravel in swirling water
2In sediment
Backswamp: shallow depression on floodplain away from stream in broad valley
3Restricted to folded or faulted rock layers
Tectonic basin: trom tectonic subsidence and/or faulting
4Restricted to volcanoes
Volcanic crater: at top of volcano
Caldera: similar to volcanic crater but significantly larger
5Overlies soluble rocks
Sinkhole: solution cavity at surface; most often in or above limestone or gypsum; solution valleys and caves nearby
6Restricted to glacial valleys (see Valleys)
Cirque (or corrie): half-bowl-like depression at head of glacial valley, commonly with distinct basin at base
7Usually bordered by raised rim
Meteor crater: meteor fragments in vicinity and rock in crater may show effects of shock metamorphism; rare on Earth, common on other planets and moons
Maar: low-relief explosion crater; in volcanic terrains; crater walls with little or no lava or fragmental volcanic material; often occupied by circular lake
Bomb crater: in areas of human conflict
8Restricted to desert floor
Playa (or salina): may contain a lake after rain; accumulates salts; similar feature on the coast is known as a sabkha
9In rock
Rock basin: grooves and scratches indicate formation by ice scour; scattered along glacial valleys and in other glaciated areas where rock is exposed
10In sediment
Blowout: in hilly area of sand; often steep, cuts through layering of adjacent dunes
Kettle hole: located in hilly areas of till and relatively flat area of sand and gravel (outwash plain); steep-sided, at least in part; result of melting of partly or wholly buried block of ice
Water in pond basin: human-made; with bordering spoil bands; livestock may be nearby
11Characteristic of areas of mining
Quarry, open-pit mine, sand–gravel pit: site of extraction of valuable rocks or minerals; associated with spoil piles; open-pit mine may be terraced
Collapse (subsidence) pit or basin: may be associated with spoil piles; collapse pits related to underground mines elongate or aligned; may also form by over-extraction of ground water or oil and burning of subsurface coal
  • A detailed description of all geomorphological features has been given by Goudie (2004).