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The Western Cordillera
Transcript of The Western Cordillera
How The Western Cordillera was Formed
The Western Cordillera formed when the Pacific and the North American plates collided.
The denser Pacific plate subducted under the North American plate which caused folding, faulting and volcanic activity (powerful building-up force).
This type of tectonic plate boundary is known as a Convergent Plate Boundary.
When The Western Cordillera was Formed
The Western Cordillera formation occurred over a long period of time starting in the Mesozoic and ending in the Cenozoic.
However, the basic formation was complete by the Cenozoic era. This means that the Western cordillera formed within the previous 245 million years.
Many natural phenomena such as volcanoes and ice ages have changed the land but not as drastically.
The Western Cordillera is the western edge of Canada, along the coast of the Pacific Ocean. It is a young land with many forests and mountains separated by plateaus, valleys, and fjords. The mountains of the Western Cordillera are much younger than the Appalachian mountains which formed in the Paleozoic era. The great height of these mountains and their rugged appearance also proves the young age of these mountains
The eastern region of the Cordillera consists of fold mountains because the North American plate was being compressed by the Pacific plate causing the plate to fold creating fold mountains
Along the western region of the Cordillera lies a coast with many volcanoes
These volcanoes are a part of the Ring of Fire that stretches from the Cordillera to Japan. The erupting volcanoes created many mountains along this coast.
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A diagram of how Western Cordillera was formed
A bit more information..
The Western Cordillera also consists of many fjords.
When the last ice age ended about 10 000 years ago, glaciers filled many river valleys.
The glaciers melted and eroded the river valleys below sea level, resulting in bodies of water flooding the valley that are surrounded by tall and steep mountains
This poses challenges for transportation routes in this region
In fact, the erosional forces of the Earth still act upon the western cordillera mountain ranges eroding them slowly.
Physical Characteristics of The Western Cordillera
This lightly populated region consists of mountain belts along the Pacific coast that are as wide as about 700 kilometers. It has the only remaining glaciers besides the Arctic glaciers. This attracts many tourists who come to see the beautiful mountain ranges.
The Western Cordillera is made up of igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks.
The Western Cordillera is divided into 3 parts:
1. The Rocky Mountains- steep fold mountains made of sedimentary rock on the eastern side of the Cordillera that became uplifted because of convergence (it is believed it was once submerged under water, this explains the fossils and fossil fuels found in this area)
2. Interior Plateaus- many mountain ranges formed from volcanic activity in the centre of the Cordillera (these mountains are not as tall as the Rockies in comparison)
3. The Coastal Mountains - mountain ranges of igneous rock (caused by volcanic activity) along the Pacific Ocean. This region contains Mount Logan which is Canada’s highest mountain in Yukon near the border to Alaska
Map of The Western Cordillera
The Western Cordillera covers certain parts of British Columbia, Northwest Territories, Yukon and Alberta. It stretches southwards into the USA and reaches as far as California.
Exploring Issues of the Western Cordillera
Mountains and valleys of the western cordillera run north and south, but transportation routes run east and west. This poses challenges for transportation.
Only few passes/gaps in the ranges of the cordillera allow low enough highways and railways to cross over.
Size and frequency of avalanches are expected to increase which will cause an increase in habitats of the hoary marmot.
Tourists come to this region for many recreational purposes all season long.
Warmer springs and fall temperatures caused by climate change will melt glaciers faster and glaciers that are 100m could vanish in 20 years.
Clear- cutting is a major issue, entire forests are being cut down, which affects ancient trees that no longer exist in that area (extirpated), this also affects the salmon bearing streams which is one of the main resources.
Logging and oil exploration have sped up erosion both from the operation and from the road access built to reach them.
Trace of harmful metals have been released into streams from mining operations that pose threats towards wildlife.
Wildlife habitat have been lost through development of land for agriculture and livestock grazing.
-a long narrow inlet of the sea with steep sides (between high cliffs). They are created by glacial erosion that created valleys. When the glaciers melted, water flooded these valleys.
large mass of ice constantly moving under its own weight
used in place of the other
-a large flat area of land that is higher than other areas of land that surround it
Making Connections: Canada’s Geography Second Edition
http://www.google.com/imghp : Google Images
Northern-most part of Earth
an extensive chain of mountains