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NORTH AMERICA

Mountains

The Rocky Mountains extend from Alaska to Mexico. The highest peak in the Rocky Mountains is Mt. Elbert in Colorado at 14,431 feet. Geologists are not entirely sure why the Rocky Mountains exist. They are NOT volcanic, therefore, they must have been uplifted. But there are only theories that attempt to explain why they were uplifted. The Rocky Mountains are considered rather young mountains (about 20 million years old).

The Appalachian Mountains in eastern North America are relatively old mountains (about 500 million years old) that have been eroded over time. Therefore, the Appalachian Mountains are relatively low in elevation and have rounded peaks (due to erosion). The highest peak in the Appalachian Mountains is Mt. Mitchell in North Carolina at 6,684 feet which is accessible by car.

Other mountain ranges include the Cascade Mountains, the Sierra-Nevada Mountains and the Ozark Mountains.

Mountains once existed in an area of North America referred to as the "Canadian Shield". Today, this is an area of exposed bedrock-- the remains of these mountains-- located north of the Great lakes and the St. Lawrence River and extending all the way to the Arctic Ocean and into Greenland. Some of the oldest fossils in the world can be found here (2 billion years old). This is an area of very stable land where earthquakes are relatively rare.

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