A mountain is a landform that rises above the surrounding area. He is usually higher and steeper than a hill. He should also be characterized by a certain degree of independence, ie have enough distance from other mountains and a minimum height above a pass. Counterpart is the valley.

Geologically and geographically belong together Mountains form a mountain range or a mountain range. A distinction is made between high mountains and low mountain ranges.

The designation of a type of terrain by the people as an independent mountain is subjective and not sharply delimited from the designation summit. It is clear, therefore only that there are more peaks than mountains. Normally, a mountain will have a main and several secondary peaks, since by definition of the climbers associations already a sufficient ascent of 30 meters for a summit.

Criteria for independence

Possible evidence for whether a mine is to be regarded as independent or deemed to be secondary summit of a neighboring higher mountain, his dominance and his saddle height. A list of common criteria can be found at mountain peaks.


Mountains may be rounded as a hilltop or mountain peak or horn pyramidal pointed and harshly. In a Table Mountain or the chair height can be flat like a plateau. The mountain can be considered as a long ridge, but can also form the starting point for several branching ridges. Mountains can be free in the landscape ( such as Israel Mount Tabor ), but are usually part of a mountain range.


Depending on the sun and wind exposure, and latitude prevail on a mountain of different climate conditions, in turn, affect the vegetation. The sun -facing slopes are warmer than lying in the shade. Depending on the height of the mountain several altitude levels are represented with different climate on its flanks.

Relative, Absolute and Mythical

What is considered at a mountain as "high", is always relative to the surrounding landscape. To the north German Dammer would (115 to 146 meters ) or Hüttener mountains ( 92-106 meters) in Switzerland are just as hills, for which one sets the limit at about 300 meters in Germany or in Austria. The Møllehøj the highest mountain in Denmark Measuring just 170 meters, and the Wilseder mountain towers over 169 m above sea level. NN not only the Lüneburg Heath, but the radius of 100 kilometers.

The Vertical separation and the dominance of a survey can be used as criteria to classify a summit as a separate mountain. In the high mountains, for example, applies a saddle height of about 100 to 300 meters and a predominance of about one to three kilometer than the minimum in order to speak of a separate mountain.

To many distinctive mountains, legends and myths, in which the mountain a personality is attributed to entwine itself. Since the 19th century, mountains were discovered as " sports equipment " for the alpinism, during the 20th century was built parallel to the traditional mountaineering, the extreme climbing and free climbing. Also other alpine sports found numerous followers, including skiing, snowboarding or skiing.

Mountains stand for stability and immutability and found in this sense in many proverbs mention: "If the mountain will not come to Muhammad, Muhammad must go to the mountain ". Many people feel on the Mountain " closer to heaven ", and this experience is exciting to think or pray. As the " Head God" therefore carry many low to medium-high mountains, a chapel or memorial. In the high mountains of Europe and America, they usually wear a cross on the summit.

Many mountains are known for their panoramic view or popular. If this is hindered by forest, is erected a lookout tower. Frequently survey points or better trigonometric points are near the peak of essential.

Formation of mountains

Mountains are usually a series of plate of the earth or of volcanic origin. Move two plates of the earth's crust against each other, then at the " crumple zone" often pushed a mountain range. Their mountains are characterized by rugged shape and great height. Outstanding examples are the mountains of the Himalayas and the Andes, but also those of the Alps, the Balkan Mountains and the Zagros.

With increasing geological age erosion contributes that the forms are milder and the mountains lower. Examples can offer the Central German Uplands.

Recent research suggests that in Neoarchaikum the conditions for the emergence of higher mountains were given for the first time. In the ages before the continental lithosphere was not strong enough due to their high temperature and at low thickness for topographic elevations greater than 2,500 meters.

Some steep slopes in high mountains makes clear that stone is quite deformed: there are mountain folds in the extent of hundreds of meters and layers of paper are bent like a stack. Almost every rock gives way, when the annual movement makes up only a few millimeters. In rapid forces it reacts brittle - comparable to the sealing wax - and breaks.

Often the tectonics or erosion brings the various rock types that make up many mountains to light what interesting geological or paleontological even (in the form of fossils ) may allow insights. Also ores and mines are a sign of this diversity. Often layers of sandstone or coral reefs were in the course of the earth to older mountains attached (Jura, Dachstein Mountains, Leitha Mountains, Westerwald).

In the area of subduction zones, where one plate slides under another Earth, the lower is melted. The hot melt is lighter than its surroundings and penetrates upward. This is a cause of volcanism, which is also responsible for the emergence of many mountains. Active and former fire-breathing mountains called volcanoes.

A occurring in near polar regions orogeny is the reversal of the relief: a trough is filled by glaciers with debris, the subsoil by the weight of the ice under pressure. The glaciers shrink back, relaxes the ground, and the rubble filling can be lifted up partially on the amount of interest. Resulting elevations can be observed for example at Munsterlander Kiessandzug. More often, however, to observe that older mountain layers remain standing by their greater hardness, while younger weather more quickly.

Mountains towering on earth can barely higher than nine kilometers. This is because the base of a mountain off this level liquefies due to the enormous lithostatic pressure, and then the maximum amount to be determined.

" Floating " Mountains and gravity

"Boy " Mountains swim almost at the Earth's mantle, because the density of their rocks ( about 2.5 to 3 g / cc) is lower than in basalt -like base ( density about 3.3 g / cm ³). This could be compared to mountain regions with floating icebergs, but their " floating balance ", where only 90 to 95 percent ( isostasy ). They displace during immersion denser rocks, whereby gravity anomalies arise. These anomalies can be studied by methods of geophysics and geodesy and so exploring the Earth's interior.

"Older " mountain - chains, however, are already more worn and sunken in the episode something by which they are located with the environment to almost 100 percent in hydrostatic equilibrium. Measurements of the Earth's gravity field here show no major effect more.


  • Planet Earth. Bergwelten. (OT: Mountains ) United Kingdom, Documentary, 45 min, a film by Alastair Fothergill, Production: BBC, 2006 Summary of the ARD

Mountains by height

  • Highest mountain describes superlatives depending on different definitions and constraints
  • List of highest points by country
  • List the eight-thousanders - 14 mountains over 8000m altitude
  • Seven Summits refers to the highest mountains in each of the seven continents.
  • Two thousand, three thousand, four thousand - mountain classifications in Europe and other countries