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Home page > Our Planet > How Mountains Strengthen the Earth's Crust

How Mountains Strengthen the Earth's Crust
Human Body

The Earth's crust, the surface on which we daily walk and build our houses safely, in fact moves on a layer called the mantle which is denser than the crust. If there was not a system in place to keep this motion under control, continual shocks and quakes would occur on the Earth and the world would be a truly unlivable place. And yet, the mountains and their extensions under the ground greatly decrease underground movements, and hence such shocks.
The Earth's mountains have come about as a result of movements and clashes of huge plates which make up the planet's crust. When two of these plates collide, one usually slides under the other. The plate on top is pushed up and so forms mountains. At the same time, the plate at the bottom proceeds under the ground and forms a deep protrusion. This means that mountains have deep downward protrusions that are as large as those visible on the surface. In other words, mountains are firmly rooted in the Earth's layer called the mantle.

A converging plate boundary showing collision (obduction) and mountain range formation.

Therefore, mountains effectively clench the Earth's plates by stretching above and below the ground at the conjunctions of these plates. In this way, mountains prevent the crust of the Earth from sliding on the magma layer or between its own layers. In short, we may compare mountains to nails firmly holding pieces of wood together. This characteristic of the mountains, through counteracting the unstable nature of the Earth's crust, prevents shocks to a significant degree.
These magnificent-looking mountains also have other roles to play in maintaining certain balances on the Earth, especially in dispersing heat.

ISOSTASY explains the vertical distribution of Earth's crust. George Bedell Airy proposed that the density of the crust is everywhere the same and the thickness of crustal material varies. Higher mountains are compensated by deeper roots. This explains the high elevations of most major mountain chains, such as the Himalayas. G H Pratt hypothesized that the density of the crust varies, allowing the base of the crust to be the same everywhere. Sections of crust with high mountains, therefore, would be less dense than sections of crust where there are lowlands. This applies to instances where density varies, such as the difference between continental and oceanic crust.

The temperature difference between the equator and the Earth's poles is about 100°C (212°F). If such a difference arose on the surface level, storms at blinding speeds reaching 1,000 km (621 miles) per hour would devastate the Earth. However the uneven surface of the Earth blocks strong air currents that such heat differences could cause. These mountain ranges begin with the Himalayas in China, continue with the Taurus mountain range in southern Turkey, and then again up into the Alps of Europe. The mountain ranges of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans also figure into this equation.
Like all other details on the Earth, what is manifested in the mountains is part of the endless art of God. God has created the world where we live in a perfect way. Seeing these magnificent examples, what man must acknowledge is that the most important fact of his life is his duty to serve God and to work for this and this alone. Because man is in need of countless blessings, whereas God is Rich Beyond Need.

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