Relief – Concept, characteristics, examples, climate and art

We explain what relief is, its characteristics, examples and the relationship between climate and relief. Also, what is relief in art.

The relief is synonymous with geographical features.

What is relief?

Relief it is an outstanding texture of a surface that has different variations. Among the most characteristic reliefs of the earth’s surface are mountains, plateaus and plains.

A relief is also synonymous with geographical features. These accidents appear in the form of irregularities and unevenness within a terrestrial or aquatic ecosystem, which provides a modification in a certain area and, in many cases, provides texture.

The relief is important for the studies of the climate, the flora and the fauna. His appearance on the field it may be due to internal processes of planet Earth, actions of nature or human intervention.

Some landforms like moutains, valleys, hills and plains They are explained by factors such as erosion, the effect of gravity and the climate, over long periods of time.

In addition, the term relief is used to refer to a sculptural technique.

Characteristics of the relief

  • It is the result of geological processes.
  • It can have endogenous or exogenous causes.
  • It can be continental or oceanic.
  • It can manifest itself through depressions or elevations.
  • It exists throughout the earth’s surface.
  • Modify the climate of a region.
  • It is studied by geomorphology.
  • It can vary due to the intervention of man.
  • It influences the lifestyle of the inhabitants of an ecosystem and its flora and fauna.

Examples of landforms

(Examples of reliefs)
Each geographic relief has its specific characteristics.

Among the most representative examples of landforms are:

  • Moutains. Elevations with a height greater than 1000 meters above sea level that are usually grouped. For example: Mount Everest in the Himalayas or Mount Aconcagua in the Andes.
  • Plateaus. Flat elevations created by tectonic movement or erosion. For example: the Gran Pajonal in Peru or the Central Plateau in Spain.
  • Plain. Grounds with a minimum height and few irregularities. Many of them originated from the flow of rivers or natural erosions. For example: the Dōgo Plain in Japan or the Gulf Coastal Plain in Mexico.
  • Mountain ranges. A group of united mountains that usually have high peaks. For example: The Alps in Central Europe or the Rocky Mountains in the United States.
  • Valleys Depressions in the terrain that are between mountains or elevations and usually have a river or water course. For example: the Great Rift Valley in Africa or the Calchaquí Valleys in Argentina.
  • Hills. Elevations that are lower than the mountains and that have a rounded tip. For example: Mount Zion in Jerusalem or Connors Knob in Australia.
  • Saws. Set of elevations smaller than a mountain range, but that are usually part of it. For example: the Sierra de Ayllón in Spain or the Sub-Andean mountains in Argentina.

Types of reliefs

Two main types of relief can be distinguished in geography:

  • Continental relief. Outstanding parts of the terrestrial terrain in relation to sea level. For example: mountains, plateaus, plains, mountains, among others.
  • Ocean relief. Parts of the earth’s terrain that are below sea level. For example: seamounts, ocean trenches, abyssal plains, among others.

Relief and climate

The relief and the climate are two elements that are part of every terrestrial landscape. Climate is understood as the set of atmospheric characteristics of a particular area and it is made up of elements such as temperature, humidity and altitude.

One of the factors that determines the climate of a region is the relief. This is mainly evident in the higher altitude areas, since the height modifies some characteristics of the climate. In mountainous areas, air masses collide with these tall structures and rise, causing them to lose temperature and generate precipitation.

The mountains also produce a curtain against the wind and the air masses coming from oceanic areas, which modifies the climatic conditions of the surrounding areas.

What causes landforms?

Relief - Volcanism
Volcanoes are produced when a continental and an oceanic plate collide.

There are two main types of forces that act in the formation of landforms:

  • Endogenous processes. They are those processes that take place inside the Earth. The movement and collision of tectonic plates is the main cause of the appearance of reliefs such as cracks or mountains on the earth’s surface.
  • Exogenous processes They are those processes that occur on the earth’s surface. Among the main processes are erosion produced mainly by meteorological agents and the movement and sedimentation of materials produced by natural causes or by human action.

Relief in art

In sculpture, the relief is a technique that allows to create an effect of optical and physical depth in images or inscriptions on a wall or support (in the case of furniture). According to the type of effect that is given, the relief can be:

  • Bas-relief. The main elements stand out slightly.
  • Sunken. It is carved below surface level or at the same height.
  • Half relief. Half the volume of the elements is raised or highlighted.
  • High relief. A little more than half the volume of the items stands out.
  • Half lump. It is carved throughout the space, yet it never comes off the wall.
  • Hollow relief. It is played with the lights and shadows to give a special finish to the work.