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World Geography / Topography

Types of Plains in the World

There are generally four types of plains that exist in the world namely, Erosional plains, Depositional plains, Structural plains and Abyssal plains. A plain is a broad region that generally does not show much variation in its elevation. Plains are formed either by the movement of earth's crust or by the action of natural agents like rivers, wind, glaciers, etc. Plains can occur along the bottoms of the valleys, along the coastlines, along the sides of the rivers or can occur next to the plateaus. The examples of plains in the world include Great Plains of USA, Nile Plains of Egypt, Great Northern Plains of India, etc.

Different Types of Plains

The formational facts about different types of plains in the world are explained below.

  • Erosional Plains

    Different natural agents like winds, rivers, glaciers, rains, sea waves, etc. slowly erode the surface of the land over a period of time. The plains, once located at higher elevation, thus formed by the process of erosion are called Erosional plains.

    These types of plains are not perfectly flat and thus sometimes they are called Peneplains. Finland, lowlands of Canada, German plains, West Siberian plain of Russia, lowlands of US are some of the examples of Erosional plains.

Types of plains

  • Depositional Plains

    Some plains of the world are formed by gradual deposition of silt and other materials that are brought by various transporting agents like rivers, wind or glaciers. Plains thus formed by such a process are known as Depositional plains.

    • The plains that are formed by glacial action are known as Glacial plains. These can be classified into two types of plains, namely Sandur plains and Till plains.

      A Sandur plain is an outwash plain formed of glacial sediments deposited by the glacial melt-water at the end of a glacier.

      Till plains are formed when a sheet of glacial ice gets separated from the main glacier and starts to melt at a place and thus depositing the sediments there. The Canadian plains and the plains in North-Western Europe are examples of the glacial plains.

    • The plains that are formed by the deposition of silt due to the action of the rivers are called Alluvial plains. Flood plains are one of the features of these types of plains. In Flood plains, the sediments, which are brought by the flood water, are piled up on the banks of the river.

      The Great Northern Plains of India, Nile Plains of Egypt, Mississippi Plains of US are some examples of Alluvial plains.

    • The plains that are formed by the action of wind are called Loess plains. Gobi desert is a classic example of Loess plain.

  • Structural Plains

    Due to the movement of the earth, sometimes uplifting or depressing of the crust may happen. Such an action can form a plain, which is called Structural plain. The Steppes of Russia, Great Plains of USA, etc. are some of the examples of Structural plains.

    The difference between structural plains and depositional plains is that the former ones are relatively undisturbed plains and the later are the continuously happening ones.

  • Abyssal Plains

    These are a kind of different types of plains as they are located inside the seas and the oceans. These are very gently sloping or flat regions deep inside the sea or ocean basins.