PHYSICAL PLACE CHARACTERISTICS IN ASIA

There are several forces that formed the Asia we know.  Tectonic, erosion, and weathering forces have affected the land and are still changing this vast region. 

Tectonic means “builder.”  Earth’s seven huge and other smaller thick, rock plates are always moving slowly around the globe.  Forces inside our planet cause this movement.  When the plates collide, tall mountain chains, such as Asia’s Himalayas, or high plateaus, such as Tibet’s, are formed.  Many as the Indian-Australian Plate is moving the subcontinent of India further into the Eurasian Plate, another example of tectonics.  A trench may be formed when one plate slides beneath another, such as the rift valley of Southwest Asia.  The Ring of Fire is a zone around the Pacific plate which consists of hundreds of active volcanoes.  Twenty percent of the world’s volcanoes are in Indonesia.  Japan’s Mt. Fuji is also located in the Ring of Fire.

An earthquake occurs when plates build up tension as they slide alongside each other and catch.  The 1995 earthquake in western Japan devastated the city of Kobe and surrounding areas.  Earthquakes, landslides, and volcanism can also cause seismic sea waves called tsunami or waterfalls.

While forces from the interior of the earth affect the earth, the surface of the earth experiences weathering and erosion.  Repeated temperatures changes and chemical action is the wet atmosphere result in climate changes.  Asia has every type of climate somewhere across its vast area.  Climate is the main cause of the crumbling of the earth’s surface rocks.  Erosion occurs when weathered rock is changed and destroyed by glaciers, rivers, waves, and winds.  For example, eroded rocks such as China’s Loess Plateau resulted in fertile silt (loess) being carried by the Huang River to the Yellow Sea.  The silt gives both rivers their yellow tint.  Other erosion changes were caused by building up the earth’s rocks as seen in sandbars at the delta (mouth) of the Ganges-Brahamaputra Rivers.  Water erosion occurs with typhoons and cyclones striking land in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.  Erosion is common when monsoons bring rain to South and Southeast Asia.  Running water is the most effective and widespread of all erosion agents.  Many valleys are carved through mountains by rivers that extend their deltas into the seas.

Ice erosion is mostly caused by glaciers.  Glaciers eating away at the coastline carved the fjords of Japan.  These ice sheets also went into mountain valleys thousands of years ago widening and deepening river valleys.

Wind causes the greatest problems in dry locations.  Most of the world’s deserts are not sandy, but have rocky landscapes.  Some thick sand deposits blown about by the wind have formed dunes in Asia as in the Arabian Desert.

Humans also create changes in the Asian landscape.  Land-use practices such as surface mining, agriculture and aquaculture, development of cities, and water diversions change the physical features of Asia.