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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 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 importance of plains in the world is immense because human civilization is very much associated with the plains.

    Different Types of Plains

    The formational facts about different types of plains 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.

    • Depositional Plains

      Some plains 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. 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 ones exhibit a continuous phenomenon.

    • 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.