Types of Mountains: Characteristics, Examples, UPSC Notes

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

The major types of mountains are fold, block, volcanic, dome, and residual mountains. The surface of the earth varies from place to place. The main landforms on the earth’s surface are mountains, plateaus, oceans, etc., which are the natural features of the earth’s surface. The internal and external processes cause the formation of a landform. The earth beneath or under our feet is moving continuously. This movement of the earth’s surface results in internal processes. Likewise, the continuous rebuilding and wearing down of the earth’s surface results in external processes. The elevation of the earth’s surface is referred to as mountains. This elevation is natural and gives rise to different types of mountains, such as fold mountains, block mountains, volcanic mountains, etc.

In this article, you will get to know all the necessary information regarding the types of mountains which is an important topic from the UPSC exam point of view. Candidates preparing for the Prelims and Mains examinations must read this article thoroughly and be aware of the types of mountains in India.

Types of Mountains

A mountain can be defined as a physical structure, a natural elevation on the surface of the Earth, which has a broad base and is narrow at the top. We also know that, with an increase in height, temperature decreases. Hence, most of the mountains have snow-covered peaks. You will find different types of mountains in India. Kanchenjunga (8,586 m), Nanda Devi (7,816 m), and Kamet (7,756 m) are the most famous mountains in India.

Five Types of Mountains:

  • Block Mountains
  • Fold Mountains
  • Volcanic Mountains
  • Residual Mountains
  • Dome Mountains

When several mountains form a queue, they are referred to as the mountain range. There are certain mountain ranges that are spread over 100 kilometers. Based on formation and nature, there are four types of mountains classified Fold Mountains, Volcanic Mountains, Block Mountains, and Dome Mountains.

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Different Types of Mountains and their Formation

Different types of mountains are formed through different methods. This is why they have different characteristics. Let’s read about the formation and characteristics of different types of mountains through examples.

Fold Mountains

This type of mountain is generally formed through the process of orogeny. An event referred to as an ‘orogenic event’ takes place over a million years to form a fold mountain. A tectonic plate gets folded when it accumulates pressure from both sides. Some of the portions become elevated resulting in the formation of a fold mountain.


  • When a particular area of sea separates into two plates, the sediments of it settle on the seafloor, forming geosynclines. These sediments are then compressed, forming sedimentary rock.
  • The sedimentary rock layers become folded when the two tectonic plates move toward each other repeatedly.
  • Gradually, the crumpled and folded sedimentary rock forms a range of the most common types of mountains, i.e., fold mountains.


  • This mountain is always formed along the convergent plate boundaries.
  • The force, i.e., compression from both sides, causes the layers to fold and buckle. This process is commonly referred to as folding.

Examples of Fold Mountains: The Himalayas, the Alps, and the Andes are examples of fold mountains. They have the highest peak in the world as they are recently formed (young mountains). Also, learn about the highest peak in India here.

Block Mountains

These types of mountains are formed when gigantic areas are displaced vertically and broken. Here, the uplifted or elevated blocks are called ‘horsts’, and the lowered or deflated blocks are called ‘graben’. According to archaeologists, most block mountains are formed due to faulting.


  • The upward movement of the middle block between any two faults results in the formation of a block mountain.
  • It may be formed when the side blocks of the two faults are moving downwards. Simultaneously, the middle block remains stable in its original position.
  • They can also be formed when the middle block between any two faults moves downwards.


  • The uplifted blocks are called ‘horsts,’ and the lowered blocks are called ‘graben’.
  • A block mountain can be formed under three circumstances: upward movement, downward movement, and no movement.

Block Mountains Examples: The Vosges Mountain in Europe and the Rhine Valley are some common examples of Block Mountains.

Volcanic Mountains

A mountain formed due to volcanic activity in the volcanoes is known as a volcanic mountain. Andaman and Nicobar Island is the tip of a volcanic mountain in India. They rise from the floor of the ocean.

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Characteristics of Volcanic Mountains:

  • All volcanic mountains are formed due to volcanic activities.
  • The soil found near the volcanic mountain is very fertile in nature. However, due to volcanic eruptions, it is not possible to yield any crop.

Examples of Volcanic Mountains: Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Fujiyama are some examples of volcanic mountains found in the world.

Dome Mountain

Dome mountains are generally formed when a gigantic amount of magma or melted rock pushes the earth’s crust. They are not as tall as fold mountains. This is due to the process of formation.


  • When huge amounts of magma come up from the crust, they push up the surface rocks resulting in a rounded bump in the crust.
  • Gradually, the magma cools down. Hence, creating a wide dome of harder rock beneath the surface.
  • The erosion of it sometimes reveals forming of a dome mountain.


  • They are not as high as the fold mountains.
  • They are relatively flat as compared to any other type of mountain.

Examples of Dome Mountains: The Weald in Southeast England and The Black Hills of South Dakota are typical examples of Dome Mountains.

Residual Mountains

As the name suggests, the residues of the previously existing mountains cause the formation of residual mountains. However, along with the remnants, weathering and erosion also affect the process of formation of these mountains.


  • When an existing old fold mountain gets eroded, it forms Residual mountains.
  • It happens because of the slow erosion of the high-terrain mountains.
  • It is a natural process of weather erosion.


  • These are hard rocks mountains.
  • They do not grow any longer.
  • They’re more rounded at the top of it.

Example: The Sierras of central Spain and the Mesas of the USA are examples of residual mountains.

Types of Mountains in India

All five types of mountains listed above are found in India in different forms and times. The only example of a Volcanic mountain can be found on Barren Island in the Andaman Sea. Examples of other types of mountains in India are as follows:

Types of Mountains


Fold Mountains


Residual Mountains

Nilgiris, Girnar hill, Parasnath, and Rajmahal are examples of Residual mountains in India.

Block mountains

Satpura and Vindhya mountains, located in the central-western part of India

Dome Mountains

Kedar Dome peak, a dome-shaped mountain in the Garhwal Himalayas

Types of Mountains UPSC

There are mainly three types of mountains – Block mountains, Volcanic mountains, and Fold mountains. The other two types of mountains are Dome and residual mountains. It is a fundamental topic in the physical geography of the UPSC syllabus. Many questions have been asked in the UPSC exam regarding this topic. These mountain types shall be studied in detail, including their formation, characteristics, examples, and much more. Aspirants can download the previous year’s question papers for preparation along with the UPSC study material for notes.

Types of Mountains UPSC Questions

Q1. Identify the following mountain range using the features mentioned below.

  1. Mana Pass is one of the most famous passages of this range.
  2. It is the coldest place in India; Dras lies in this passage.

Select the Correct Option:

  1. Ladakh
  2. Zaskar
  3. Shiwalik
  4. Pir Panjal

Correct Option: 2 ( Zaskar).

Q2. Consider the following statements regarding the Rajmahal hills.

  1. This hill is made up of ballistic rocks.
  2. This hill is situated in the Aravali hills of the Rajasthan Region.

Select the Correct Option:

  1. 2 only
  2. 1 only
  3. Neither 1 nor 2
  4. Both 1 and 2

Correct Option: 1 ( 2 only ).

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