Difference Between Mountain and Plateau


Main Difference

The main difference between Mountain and Plateau is that Mountain is an elevation of land which has pointed apex, whereas Plateau is high land with plane apex.

Mountain vs. Plateau

Mountain elevates from earth’s crust. Plateau is tablelands of plane land. The mountain peaks are pointy. The peak of the plateau is flat. Mountain forms by the movement of plates of the lithosphere of the earth, while Plateau forms by volcanic eruption or degradation by steady water flow or glaciers. The weather like storms, winds, icebergs, and water erodes mountain less, while these unfavorable conditions erode plateau greatly. Mountain rocks are a source of mineral deposits, but the plateau is rich sources of minerals.


Mountain is higher, while plateau has low heights. Some mountains cross the clouds, while the height of the plateau is about thousands of meters. Mountains classify according to the formation, whereas plateau has classes depending upon the area. Mountains have three major categories; conversely, the plateau has four. Forests cover the mountains, which provide timber, wood, drugs, and grazing areas for animals. The plateau does not provide these benefits.

Comparison Chart

Mountain is an elevation of the earth’s surface, forms by plate tectonics or volcanic eruptions.Plateau is an elevation of plain land, forms by either volcanism, lava upcoming, or degradation by glaciers.
Top Structure
Pointed topFlat top
Plate tectonicsVolcanism, erosion
Climate Effect
Weather and climate erode slowlyWeather and climate erode to a greater extent
Mineral Deposits
Fewer mineralsRich in minerals
Can be higher than cloudsUp to thousands of meters
Three classesFour classes
The Himalaya mountainThe Deosai Plateau

What is Mountain?

A mountain is a large, natural elevation from earth ground usually in the form of a peak — mountains forms by plate tectonics or volcanic eruptions. In plate tectonics, some parts of earth crust move in the form of waves then dive. The natural forces lift some rocks upwards higher from the surrounding surface — volcanic forms by sliding one plate onto others. In deep earth, rocks melt and form magma, which comes out to surface it reforms into a mountain.

The peaks of mountains are called summits. Some mountains are isolated while most are present in ranges. At high altitudes, the atmosphere is colder, and it does not support life there. Mountains are less populated and less used for farms because of the colder climate. Some mountains are barren, while others possess plants, trees, and grasses. Mountains can be in the form of glaciers. These glaciers melt, and many rivers originate from mountains. This water is the only source for agriculture production. Tourists visit the mountains to see their beautiful views. Many games organize in Mounty areas.


  • Volcanic Mountains: The rocks melt inside the earth and come out to surface. The magma piles up in the form of a mountain. Mount Fuji in Japan, Mount St. Helens in North America are examples of volcanic mountains.
  • Fold Mountains: These forms by the collision of two plates of the lithosphere of earth. These mountains are common such as the Alps, and the Himalayan are some examples of fold mountains.
  • Block Mountains: The movement of plates produce stress, and rock moves up and down then block mountains forms.

What is a Plateau?

Plateau is high land, forms by either volcanism, lava upcoming, or degradation by glaciers. The magma from the mantle core of earth causes the upward movement of plateaus from flat ground. When water or glaciers hit the mountains, erode them creating plateaus. Plateaus are small and can be high, reaching thousands of meters. Tourist visits plateau for their scenic beauty. At altitude, the climate conditions become unfavorable. At the lower height, it offers a suitable environment.


  • Intermontane Plateaus: Mountains border these plateaus. e.g., The Tibetan plateau
  • Piedmont Plateaus: These plateaus surrounded by mountains from one side while another side is locked by plain or sea. e.g., The Atlantic coastal plain
  • Continental Plateaus: These plateaus are away from the mountains. Plains and seas cover it from all sides. e.g., The Antarctic plateau in East America
  • Volcanic Plateaus: These plateau form from the volcanic eruptions. When lava comes out through small breaks and solidifies, then volcanic plateaus form, the Columbia plateau is an example.

Key Differences

  1. Mountain is raising the surface of the earth to reach an altitude, whereas plateau is an increase in the height of the flat surface.
  2. Mountain has a pointy summit, while plateau has a plain peak.
  3. Mountain is formed by natural forces such as plate tectonics; conversely, plateau form by the eruption of lava, magma, or corrosion of water or glaciers.
  4. Mountain is rocky, do not erode by winds, glaciers or storms; on the flip side, plateaus break into summits by weather conditions.
  5. Mountain is the main source of minerals, whereas plateaus have rich mineral deposits.
  6. Mountain’s height can be greater than clouds; on the other hand, plateau reaches up to thousands of meters.
  7. Mountains have three major types depending upon their type of formation; conversely, plateaus have four classes depending upon the environment.


Mountains and plateaus both are the raisings of landforms, but mountains are rocky elevation formed by natural forces such as the motion of plates of the earth, whereas plateaus are tablelands formed by lava, magma or erosion.

Harlon Moss

Harlon currently works as a quality moderator and content writer for Difference Wiki. He graduated from the University of California in 2010 with a degree in Computer Science. Follow him on Twitter @HarlonMoss