What are the major physical features of North America?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

I will go into more detail about some of the more prominent physical features mentioned in the previous post.

The western edge of North America coincides with the plate tectonic boundary between the Pacific Plate and the North American Plate. The results are several physical features: the San Andreas Fault, the Sierra Nevada mountain range, the Cascade mountain range (which includes Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier, both in Washington State), and the Aleutian trench and Aleutian islands.

In the north, the oldest part of the continent is the Canadian Shield, a vast horseshoe-shaped area of land around Hudson Bay.

The Appalachian mountains stretch from Alabama to Maine. They are the result of a continental-continental plate collision and millions of years of weathering and erosion. Much of the materials has been washed down to the Mississippi River, which has the third largest drainage basin in the world. The river ends in the Gulf Coast, characterized by low hills and deltas of the Gulf of Mexico.

The Colorado Plateau is characterized by ancient volcanic moutnains, broad plateaus, and canyons, including the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River.

The Basin and Range region, between the Colorado Plateau/Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Coast, is characterized by mostly north-south valleys and mountains. Large lakes often form (the best known of which is the Great Salt Lake in Utah).

The sedimentary environments of the Rocky Mountains and Great Plains have made them prime sources of oil and gas formation.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team