What are the Differences Between Mountain and Valley

Difference Between Mountain and Valley

Mountains and valleys are among the many mesmerizing creations of nature. Both structures have helped shape human civilizations with the resources and protection essential for the sustenance of mankind.

Still, they both are dissimilar in many ways, and so is their formation, characteristics, and ecology.

What is a Mountain?

A mountain rises above the surrounding area in the form of a peak usually formed through tectonic forces or volcanism. A mountain is typically measured to be 1,000 feet in height.

A mountain has a conical shape that looks like piercing the sky. Mountains, generally, are the sources of rivers. To put it in simple words, a mountain is a large mass of land that rises above the ground.

The tallest mountain in the world, Mount Everest (8,848), lies in Nepal, Asia.

What is a Mountain

Forms of Mountains

There are various forms of mountains. And they are categorized according to their forms.

Fold Mountains

Fold mountains form after rock fold symmetrically or asymmetrically when two tectonic plates collide.

Block Mountains (also known as Fault-Block Mountains)

Block Mountains form after rocks move past each other, rather than folding, which are caused by faults in the crust.

Dome Mountains

The magma that cannot reach the surface and solidifies below the ground creates a mountain with a dome-shaped surface. Such mountains are Dome mountains.

Volcanic Mountains

Magma erupts and the resulting lava solidifies at the top to form a Volcanic mountain.

Plateau Mountains (Erosion Mountains)

Also known as Erosion mountains, plateau mountains are formed after natural forces like water, wind, ice and gravity wear down the structure.

What is a Valley?

What is a Valley

A valley runs between mountains at the cross-section of the slopes. It is a long gap seen between mountains. They can be also explained as an elongated area running between mountains. It usually has a river flowing through it.

Valley serves as the route for rivers to flow towards the lower grounds or plains.

Valleys run between hills or mountains, usually, a river flowing through them.

Death Valley situated in the USA is a well-known example of a valley.

A valley has different terminologies relating to their structure or nature. Some of the terminologies are –

  • A valley through which a river runs is Vale
  • A small, secluded wooden valley is Dell
  • A long valley with sloped concave sides is Glen
  • Strath is a valley where land is wide and flat through which a river runs
  • A small valley with closed ends, at least to one side, is Mountain Cove
  • A valley surrounded by mountains is Hollow
  • Combe or Coombe is a deep, narrow valley
  • A valley with a deep, narrow, flat bottom that has abrupt ending is a Steephead valley
  • Erosional valley is formed by erosion
  • Structural valley is formed by geologic events
  • A valley between two parallel mountain chains is Longitudinal valley

Different kinds of valleys have separate terms as explained above. However, they have diverse forms and separate natural phenomena of creation.

Valleys and How they are Formed


River Valley

A River valley is formed by flowing water. It usually has V-shape.

Rift Valley

Due to tectonic activity, the Earth’s crust is expanded resulting in the making of Rift valleys.

Glacial Valley

Glacial valleys are formed when a glacier erodes the uniformity of landscapes. However, it deepens and widens the valley floor when restricted by valley walls. There are various forms of glacial valleys.

U-shaped valley

Glaciers usually carve valleys in U-shape that resembles a trough. U-shaped valleys are created once the glacier recedes.

Tunnel valley

Subglacial erosion by water causes in Tunnel valley creation. They can be up to 62 miles long, 2.5 miles wide and 1,300 feet deep.

Meltaway valley

Meltaway valley is formed by glacial meltwaters in contrast to other forms of glacial valleys. For example, the Scandinavian ice sheet in Central Europe advances uphill. The meltwater flow parallel to the ice margin formed huge flat valleys.

Hanging Valley

A hanging valley is a tributary valley. It resides higher than the main valley. The glacier with less volume of ice becomes tributary to the main glacier that forms the U-shaped valley. Once the glacier is eroded, the tributary glaciers appear as hanging above the main glaciers.

Trough-shaped Valley

Earth’s surface wears away due to moving water, ice, wind and waves reducing the landscape elevation. Trough-shaped valleys are formed by such natural activities called denudation. Unlike U-shaped glacial valleys, the downward and sideways erosion is less.

Box Valley

A common sight in periglacial areas that occur in mid-latitudes, tropical, and arid regions, Box valleys have steep sides, level floors, and are wide.

Other Differences Between Mountains and Valley

Other Differences Between Mountains and Valley

Mountains are used as a spiritual example to describe hard work, success, and failure.

Mountains are challenging to climb and reaching the summit brings the feelings of accomplishment, satisfaction, and joy to the climber.

In the shadows of mountains lie valleys, which are associated with disappointments and dark days.

Human settlements have resided in river valleys since prehistoric times. Nile, Indus, Ganges, Yangtze, Yellow River, Mississippi have a recorded history of complex social origins.