We explain what geomorphology is, its object of study, branches and why it is important. Also, its relationship with geology.

Geomorphology studies what were the processes that created the relief.

What is geomorphology?

Geomorphology is the branch of both geology as of the geography, which studies the forms of the earth's surface, to understand its origin, transformations and current behavior.

To do this, he often goes to other Sciences looking for tools and knowledge. His objective is to build geomorphological models that detail, along the weather, the destructive and constructive processes that resulted in the scenery observable terrestrial.

Said processes are classified, according to the interests of geomorphology, into four categories, according to their nature:

  • Geographic. When elements of geography such as the weather, the I usually, the gravity, the fluvial, maritime action or the winds.
  • Biotics. When they are a consequence of the action of various forms of life non-human, such as vegetation, microorganisms or the animals that take part in numerous erosive processes.
  • Geological. When they are the own of the dynamics of the Earth, like the tectonic plates, volcanism, orogenesis, etc.
  • Anthropic. When they are the result of human activities, whether for or against the processes erosive.

On the other hand, although geomorphology was inseparable from geography in its beginnings, at the end of the 19th century it assumed its own field of study, thanks to who is considered its founding father: the American geographer William Morris Davis (1850-1934).

The first scholars of geomorphology refuted with empirical evidence the dominant thesis in their time that the relief of the planetary surface was consequence of the action of the universal flood of The Bible.

Object of study of geomorphology

Geomorphology focuses on the various forms of relief that the earth's crust presents and the factors that contribute to define them, such as climatological, hydrographic, geological, anthropic elements, etc.

In that sense, his approach is both physical (in the sense of studying the natural transformations of the lithosphere) as human (since it also contemplates the effect of human activities on the Earth crust).

Branches of geomorphology

Glacial geomorphology studies the impact of glaciers on the relief.

Geomorphology has numerous subdivisions or branches, such as:

  • Climatic geomorphology. As its name suggests, it studies the influence of climate on the development of a specific relief, due to the action of atmospheric phenomena such as wind, rain, atmospheric pressure and temperature.
  • Fluvial geomorphology. It specializes in the action of the river erosion on the earth's surface, and the impact of hydrography in the modeling of the relief.
  • Wind geomorphology. Similarly, it proposes a specialized approach in the action of the erosion wind and winds on the relief of the planetary surface.
  • Glacial geomorphology. It deals with studying the geographic formations linked to glaciers, for which it often relies on glaciology.
  • Structural geomorphology. Study the relief with emphasis on geological structures, such as faults and folds, rock outcrops, etc. It is very close in its approach to geology, naturally.

Importance of geomorphology

The geomorphological study is the main access route to the formation dynamics of the geography of our planet, that is, it allows us to answer why the relief is as it is, why there is moutains where there are, in short, why the earth's crust acts as it does and has the forms it does.

This is not minor information, because by understanding the processes that shape the world, we can also understand its history, its origins, and also understand our impact as species in the same.

Geology and geomorphology

While both disciplines They have a similar approach, when dealing with the forms of the earth's crust, it is important to emphasize that geology has a much more vast and complex approach, since geomorphology is only one of its branches.

Geology, in fact, is not only interested in the shape of the Earth, but also in the materials that compose it, in the origin of the same, in the formation processes that occurred and continue to occur in its interior, in its total structure, in a myriad of aspects that escape the field study of geomorphology, also limited to the lithosphere and the earth's crust.

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