What are the major differences and similarities of the 5 regions in North America?
The North American continent can be roughly divided into 5 different geographical regions. They are outlined and discussed below.
1. The American Cordillera. This is the mountainous region in the western part of the continent. In the USA, it mostly consists of the Rocky Mountains. This mountainous region is the eastern end of the Pacific ring of fire.
2. The Canadian Shield. This is an enormous slab of igneous bedrock that sits under the eastern and central portions of Canada. Its southern end is in the north, central part of the USA (the Great Lakes area). It is much older than the Cordillera, so any mountainous features have heavily eroded into much gentler features.
3. The Stable Platform. This makes up most of the Midwestern plains. It is very flat because it used to be covered by an inland sea that eventually drained as the land rose over time. It is mostly flat with sedimentary rocks.
4. The Appalachian Orogenic Belt. This comprises the Appalachian Mountains from the Catskills in New York all the way down to Alabama. This is a very old mountain chain (much older than the Rockies), so the features are much more eroded than the Cordillera, and the exposed rocks are more rounded and often covered with thin soil and trees.
5. The Coastal Plain. This extends from the Appalachians to the Atlantic Ocean, and also consists of the land under the Gulf of Mexico. In consists of sediment runoff from the Appalachians that formed the continental shelf of the Atlantic coastal areas as the ocean level receded.