A mountain chain is a series of mountains that are geologically linked together. Such mountains have some similarities between them such as age, form, and size. A mountain chain stretches mostly across continents or countries and is often used to mark boundaries. Mountain chains are formed through a process called plate tectonics. Plates are fragments of the Earth’s crust, and when they collide, they buckle and force vast areas of land to rise. This is the reason why most of the mountains found in chains are Fold Mountains.
The Longest Mountain Chains In The World
The Andes of South America is the longest mountain range in the world, stretching for an estimated distance of 7,000 km (4,350 miles). It cuts across seven South American countries of Argentina, Ecuador, Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, and Chile.
The Andes is composed of many active volcanos, Ojos del Salado on the Argentina-Chile border being the highest of the active ones. The Andes is characterized by different climatic conditions ranging from very cold to warm, tropical climate. The mountain chain attracts adventurers from all over the world with activities such as hiking, biking, and trekking.
Southern Great Escarpment
Southern Great Escarpment covers a distance of about 5,000 km (3,100 miles). It stretches across seven countries in Southern Africa, covering Zimbabwe, South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho, Namibia, and Angola.
The larger part of it edges South Africa, and it is given other names in other countries, the most popular one being the Drakensberg. The Drakensberg Mountains are the escarpment’s highest peaks. They rise to 3,482 meters (11,423.8ft) at Thabana Ntlenyana. The Drakensberg range has basalt lava with soft sandstones located underneath.
The Rocky Mountains (Rockies) is a spectacular range of peaks and valleys stretching for about 4,800 km (3,000 miles) from northern British Columbia in Canada down south to New Mexico in the United States. The chain includes at least 100 different ranges which are narrowed down to four groups.
The highest peak in the range is Mount Elbert in Colorado at 4,401 meters (14,438.98 ft) above sea level. The Rocky Mountains are most notable for the sets of rocks on its surface. These rocks are a result of tectonic forces over a long period. Most of the area on the chain has been enclosed in parks and resorts attracting millions of tourists to engage in various recreational activities.
The Transantarctic Mountains transverse through ice and glaciers to divide the Antarctic continent into east and west. It Stretches 3,542 km (2,200 miles) long with 98% of this covered by the ice making it largely inaccessible. The ranges extend 8,175 Km (5,079.71 miles) to the East-West and 2,005 km (1245.85 miles) to the North-South.
The highest peak is Mount Kirkpatrick at 4,528 m (14,855.6 ft) in Queen Maud. Research carried out on the range uncovered fossils of plants and reptiles which suggested that the ranges may have been hospitable before. The Range is home to large numbers of seals, penguins, and flying seabirds.
Great Dividing Range
The Great Dividing Range in Australia is a complex chain of plateaus, escarpments, and mountains which are geologically related. It edges on the coastlines of Queensland, New South Wales to Victoria over a distance of 3,059 km (1,900 miles).
The Australian Alps, a section of the range contains the highest peak, Mouth Kosciuszko rising 2,228 meters (7309.71ft) above sea level. The range includes some rivers such as the Snowy River and the Goulburn River. These rivers have facilitated agriculture across the chain through irrigation. Ski resorts and national parks in the range make it ideal for tourism.
Sub-Marine Mountain Chains
Besides the land mountain chain, there are sub-marine mountain ranges are is another mountain chain under the water. The global Mid-Ocean Ridge is the longest of the sub-marine mountain ranges, stretching for a length of about 65,000 km (40,000 miles). Sub-marine mountain ranges, also a product of plate tectonics are found underwater. The mountains are formed from cooled lava after the sea floor is forced to rise from convection currents. They are linked by rifts running across a vast area of sea floor. Their existence was not known until the 1950’s. The mountains are typically active, erupting constantly and causing magma to spread to the ocean floor.