A landform is a natural feature of the solid surface of the Earth identified by terrain and arrangement and the physical features that define the Earth's surface. Typical landforms include hills, mountains, valleys, canyons, beaches, peninsulas, and submerged surfaces such as ocean floors. Landforms are categorized by characteristic physical attributes such as elevation, slope, orientation, rock exposure, and soil type.
Oceans and continents exemplify the highest-order landforms. Other elements that characterize landforms are hill-tops, shoulders, saddles, pits, peaks, channels, ridges, passes, pools, plains foreslopes and backslopes. Landforms do not include man-made features, such as canals, ports, or harbors.
While hills, mountains, valleys, canyons, beaches, and peninsulas are well-known landforms, there are many other landforms that are not as well-known. For example, an archipelago is a group or chain of islands clustered together in a sea or ocean. An atoll is a ring (or partial ring) of coral that forms an island in an ocean or sea. The coral sits atop a submerged volcanic cone. A channel is a body of water that connects two larger bodies of water (like the English Channel). A channel is also a part of a river or harbor that is deep enough to let ships sail through. A col is a mountain pass. A cove is small, horseshoe-shaped body of water along the coast; the water is surrounded by land formed of soft rock. A delta is a low, watery land formed at the mouth of a river. It is formed from the silt, sand and small rocks that flow downstream in the river and are deposited in the delta. A delta is often (but not always) shaped like a triangle. An estuary is where a river meets the sea or ocean. A fjord is a long, narrow sea inlet that is bordered by steep cliffs. An isthmus is a narrow strip of land connecting two larger landmasses. An isthmus has water on two sides. A wetland is an area of land that is often wet; the soil in wetlands is often low in oxygen. Wetland plants are adapted to life in wet soil. There are many other types of wetlands which include swamp, slough, fen, bog, marsh, moor, muskeg, and peatland.
There are also many components that make up the landforms. The crust is rocky covering around the earth. Dirt is a mixture of crusted rock and pieces of organic material from plants and animals which cover some of the crust. There are elements such as iron, oxygen, and gold which cannot be broken down by chemical methods. Extrusive rocks are formed by lava as it solidifies near the Earth' surface. Intrusive rocks are where coal solidifies beneath the Earth's surface. Fossils are the remains of a living thing. Sediments are small particles that have settled across the Earth's surface and have been varied by wind, water, or ice. Volcanos are openings in the Earth's surface that have erupted molten rock. And weathering is a process where rocks are broken up into smaller parts. All of these components combine to make up various landforms.
Whether landforms are well-known or not as well-known, they exist everywhere and are the core that makes up the Earth' surface. They consist of many shapes, formations and arrangements. Geologists will continue to study the topology of the Earth in order to further understand the importance of landforms here on Earth.