The words “mountain” and “majestic” are not often far from each other. These mysterious beasts of the world have been forming well beyond written history—as in, up to 3.6 billion years ago—and continue growing today. They are proof of the plates moving around as Earth’s crust, brimming with fossils and minerals and evidence of the planet’s makeup with volcanic rock too. If your love of hiking and being in nature brought you here, then look no further. Giving baby a mountain-inspired baby girl, boy, or gender-neutral name is like giving them the whole world as their muse. These names evoke strength and story in equal measure, serving up lifelong encouragement.
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How are mountains formed? What are they made of?
It’s pretty common knowledge that mountains form as a result of tectonic plate collisions. But the circumstances that actually create a mountain are more specific than that. The plates have to be of a similar density and displacement of that density so that when they crash, they essentially meet as equals, pushing upward and together with the same opposing strengths. As the collision prolongs, the plates crumble away and continue crashing, enabling higher growth. While that process is global, it doesn’t explain why the world’s mountains look different. Mountains are most commonly made up of sedimentary and metamorphic rocks. But as the plates crash and raise what’s above them, they take what is naturally in the earth with them. Salt, limestone, quartz, calcite, and plenty of other minerals and earthly goodies are often folded into the mountain textures, giving them their own distinct appearance every time.
Where are the highest mountains?
Interestingly, the world’s highest mountains are all in China, Nepal, and Pakistan. That includes the famous Mount Everest, K2—also known as Savage Mountain—Kangchenjunga, Lhotse, Makalu, Cho Oyu, Dhaulagiri, Manaslu, Nanga Parbat, and Annapurna. Though these are the top ten mountains in terms of height, their variation isn’t all that wide; Mount Everest is a massive 29,028 feet tall, but Annapurna still comes in at a whopping 26,545 feet itself! However, you might ask now, “Why are most of the highest mountain peaks in Asia?” Well, this is because the plates responsible for forming them continue to crash into each other! But it’s not likely anyone will have living memory of a time these mountains were shorter due to the many, many years they take to form—consider Mount Everest’s humble age of 60 million years.
What’s the difference between a mountain and a hill?
You’ve likely understood all your life that hills are smaller than mountains, and then, like the rest of the population—except maybe geologists—assumed there was a list of measurements and requirements to a certified mountain or a hill. But hills are not actually inferior mountains because there isn’t technically a decided difference between them among geologists. Some countries have put rules in place, defining hills as 1,000 feet or less, leaving anything from 1,001 feet to Mount Everest’s 29,028 feet a mountain. But some prefer to typify the difference by the way in which they were formed—whether it was a tectonic crash or erosion. But regardless, there is no official way to know the difference, so why not throw your hat in the ring and come up with your own rules!