Teach the Earth > Structural Geology > Visualizations > Orogeny


Compiled by Rob Thomas at the Science Education Resource Center (SERC), Carleton College.

The following visualizations illustrate orogeny, the processes by which mountains form. Visualizations include simple animations, videos and diagrams. We also have additional structural geology visualization collections.

Animation of the Himalayas forming, MacDougal Littell (more info) A Flash-based movie of Himalayan formation, demonstrating how the Indian plate originally subducted beneath Eurasia before the two continents collided, creating the Himalayas. This well-done visualization is captioned, to help explain the images, and it also provides overhead and side views of the Himalayas, making it possible to see the results of orogeny from more than one angle.

Himalayan Collision, UC Santa Barbara (more info) An excellent animation of Himalayan formation, featuring captions that date events in the formation of the Himalayas. Shown as a cut-away view of the earth, it's possible to see not only the continental collision, but also the mantle and the mountain root that is created in the collision. The file is available as a QuickTime movie in two different sizes.

Plio-Pleistocene Oblique Shortening against the San Andreas fault, UC Santa Barbara (more info) An animation of the formation of Southern California's mountainous landscape through uplifting and tectonic forces. Over time, land that was below sea level was forced upwards, creating the Santa Monica Mountains and the Topa Topa Mountains. The animation is available as a QuickTime file.

The Himalayas: Two continents collide, USGS (more info) This article from the USGS publication This Dynamic Earth explains the India-Eurasian collision, featuring a helpful map that charts India's movement from 71 Ma until today. The article explains the rate of motion of India, the rate of growth of the Himalayas, and how scientists have been able to study this historic tectonic motion.

Birth of the Himalayas, NOVA Online (more info) A Shockwave-based slideshow featuring text and animations explaining the past development of the Himalayas, and how the Himalayas will develop in years to come. A simple, but information-rich visualization of orogeny.

Himalayan Animations, University of Leeds (more info) This series of interactive Flash animation explores all aspects of the India-Eurasian continental collision. Animations show the motion of the two continents, the growth of the Himalayas, earthquakes resulting from their collision, and the incredible rate of erosion of the newly formed mountains.

Earth Revealed, Annenberg Media (more info) This 1992 video series on Earth Science is available free in its entirety online, including one half-hour episode about mountain building, featuring animations, interviews with geologists, and spectacular footage of the results of orogeny. The films are viewable for free, although registration is required. All films are hosted in WMV format.

Where and How Do the Continents Deform? (more info) Plate tectonic data, earthquake data, and concepts from modeling are used to explain the uplift of the Himalayan Mountains and the accommodation of northward motion of the Indian Plate. Animations, interactive graphics, static diagrams, and photos with brief text are used in this simply illustrated and well-designed module from the University of Leeds.

Plate Borders & Mountain Building, SEED (more info) This page features animations of four different types of plate boundaries, including one animation of the collision of two pieces of continental crust, forming steep mountain ranges. The animations are all presented in flash, and the plate convergence offers a useful, generic view of orogeny.

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