The earth’s surface is shaped by two geomorphic processes that are diametrically opposed: endogenic and exogenic forces.
- Endogenic processes are those that originate from the interior of the planet. They caused the formation of mountains, volcanoes, and other landforms. The Earth’s internal heat drives endogenic processes, causing the movement of tectonic plates and the formation of magma.
- Exogenic processes are those that occur on the surface of the Earth. They are accountable for the weathering and erosion of landforms as well as sediment deposition. The Sun’s energy drives exogenic processes, which cause water to flow, wind to blow, and ice to move.
Constantly working against each other, the two processes shape the Earth’s surface. Endogenic processes create landforms, whereas exogenic processes degrade them. A region’s landscape is determined by the relative velocities of these two processes.
The Himalayas, for instance, are the result of endogenic processes. The Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates are colliding, causing the Earth’s crust to buckle and rise. This has created the world’s tallest mountain range.
The Grand Canyon represents an exogenic process. For millions of years, the Colorado River has eroded the canyon’s rocks, gradually wearing them down.
The equilibrium between endogenous and exogenous processes is in constant flux. This is why the landscape of the Earth is constantly changing.
Here are some other examples of endogenic and exogenic processes:
- Endogenic processes:
- Volcanic eruptions
- Mountain building
- Plate tectonics
- Exogenic processes:
- Mass wasting
- Coastal erosion
The study of geomorphic processes is called geomorphology. Geomorphologists use their knowledge of these processes to understand the evolution of the Earth’s surface and to predict how it will change in the future.