What Is the Alpide Belt?

The Carpathian Mountains are part of the Alpide belt of mountain ranges.
The Carpathian Mountains are part of the Alpide belt of mountain ranges.

The term Alpide belt refers to a geographic area located in the southern region of Eurasia. This area is prone to earthquake activity and is recorded as having the second highest rate of seismic activity in the world. In fact, the Alpide belt accounts for 15% of all earthquakes worldwide. Additionally, the Alpide belt is categorized as an orogenic zone, which means it was created as the result of tectonic plates pushing into each other and lifting the Earth’s crust upward. Due to this geologic activity, the Alpide belt is home to a number of mountain ranges. The zone stretches as far west as the Atlantic coast of northern Africa and as far east as the islands of Sumatra and Java. Between these two points, it runs across the Himalayan and Mediterranean regions.

Major Mountain Ranges in the Alpide Belt

A number of major mountain ranges are located in the Alpide belt. The most famous of these ranges include the Himalayas and the Alps.

The Himalayan mountain range is located in Southern Asia and forms a natural border between the Tibetan Plateau region and the Indian subcontinent area. It runs for a length of 1,500 miles. Earthquakes in the Himalayan mountain range are the result of the movement and collision of the Indian and Asian tectonic plates. It is considered one of the youngest mountain ranges in the world.

The Alps mountain range is located in Europe and runs 750 miles across 8 countries: Italy, Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland, Slovenia, Liechtenstein, and Monaco. Unlike the Himalayan mountains, the Alps were created as a result of a collision between the African and Eurasian tectonic plates. The Alps form an arc-like shape and runs into the Mediterranean Sea on the western end.

Other Mountain Ranges in the Alpide Belt

In addition to the Himalayas and Alps, the Alpide belt is home to several other lesser-known mountain ranges.

In Europe, for example, the Apennine Mountains, Cantabrian Mountains, Carpathian Mountains, Crimean Mountains, and Balkan Mountains are are located within the Alpide belt. The Apennine Mountains run for 750 miles in a northwest to southeast direction through Italy and San Marino. The Tyrrhenian and Ligurian Seas are located west of the mountain range. The Cantabrian Mountains are located in the northern region of Spain, near the Cantabrian Sea coastline, and stretch for about 180 miles. The Crimean Mountains, as the name suggests, are located in the Crimean Peninsula. This peninsula is currently under a territorial dispute between Russia and Ukraine. The Balkan Mountains are located on the Balkan Peninsula in Southeastern Europe.

In Asia, other mountain ranges within the Alpide Belt include: the Caucasus Mountains, the Pamir Mountains, and the Troodos Mountains. The Caucasus Mountains run for 680 miles in length and have an average width of 99 miles. The range is located in the western region of Asia in four countries: Georgia, Russia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia. The Pamir Mountains are located in the central region of Asia, where they run through Afghanistan, China, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan. The Troodos Mountains are located in the central area of the island of Cyprus. The range has an average elevation of 6,404 feet.


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