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Peneplain Definition

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The term "peneplain" refers to an area that resembles a plain. It is created by river and rain erosion, which continues until nearly all of the elevated sections are eroded; the most resistant rocks typically rise above the land's general level. When a peneplain is raised, it becomes a Plateau, which is then dissected by the river as they cycle through youth and old age.

Peneplain Meaning

A peneplain is a low-relief plain created by long-term erosion in geomorphology and geology. This is the broadest concept, though the term peneplain is often used to refer to a near-final (or penultimate) stage of fluvial erosion during periods of prolonged tectonic stability. Peneplains are often synonymous with William Morris Davis's period of erosion theory, but Davis and others have often used the concept in a strictly descriptive sense without any theory or specific genesis attached.


Owing to a lack of contemporary examples and difficulty in recognizing relic examples, the presence of certain peneplains and peneplanation as a natural process is not without controversy. Peneplains grade down to a base level represented by sea level in some meanings, but this condition is ignored in others. The base-level criterion is important, according to geomorphologist Karna Lidmar-Bergström and colleagues, and it is above the precise mechanism of peneplain formation, which includes some pediplains among peneplains.


Although peneplains are normally thought to form near sea level, it has been suggested that they can form at a higher elevation if substantial sedimentation increases the local base level enough or tectonic deformation continuously obstructs river networks. These two instances can be exemplified by the Pyrenees peneplains and the Tibetan Plateau, respectively.


A popular misconception about peneplains is that they should be featureless in appearance. In reality, some peneplains may be hilly due to erratic deep weathering, resulting in a plain that only grads to a base level on a grand scale.

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Peneplain Geography

Rivers, glaciers, and winds break off and carry away rock fragments from mountain and plateau surfaces. As a result, these landforms, mountains, and plateaus are gradually lowered, and their rough surfaces smoothed out to form nearly flat plains. PENEPLAINS are the name given to these plains.

Types of Peneplains

Landforms that are either alternatives to classical peneplains, a subset of peneplains, or partly overlap with the term are referred to by a variety of names. Last but not least, there are planation surfaces that may or may not be peneplains, and certain peneplains are not planation surfaces.


Green, Lidmar-Bergström, and coworkers propose the following classification scheme for peneplains in their 2013 paper:

Surfaces for Plantation

  • Pediplain

  • Inselberg plain

  • Etchplain

Hilly Relief

  • Etched hilly relief

Peneplains may have been formed by etchplanation during periods of humid climate and pediplanation during periods of arid and semi-arid climate, according to Rhodes Fairbridge and Charles Finkl. Since some peneplains grow over long periods of time, they are subject to a wide range of climatic influences. Marine abrasion and glacial erosion are also listed as processes that can help shape peneplains by the same authors. Epigene peneplains are also distinguishable from exhumed peneplains. Peneplains that have never been buried or covered by sedimentary rock are known as epigene peneplains. Peneplains that have been re-exposed after being buried in sediments are known as exhumed peneplains.

Preservation and Destruction of Peneplains

Peneplains that have been uplifted or that have been separated from their base level can be marked by an accumulation of sediments that have buried them. The peneplain is preserved by burial. A paleo surface or paleo plan is any exposed peneplain that has been separated from its base level. Renewed erosion is typical when a peneplain is uplifted.


In extreme aridity or under non-eroding cold-based glacier ice, uplifted peneplains may be preserved as fossil landforms. In shield regions, glacier erosion of peneplains is minimal. During the Quaternary, glacier erosion averaged tens of meters in the Fennoscandian Shield, but it was not uniformly distributed. A long "preparation time" of weathering under non-glacial conditions may be required for glacier erosion to be successful in shields.


Peneplain surfaces exposed to subtropical and tropical climates for an extended period can be silicified, which can shield them from erosion.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What are Peneplain and Mention the Examples of Peneplain?

Ans: Peneplain geology is a low-relief plain created by long-term erosion. Some peneplains may be hilly due to erratic deep weathering, forming a plain only on a grand scale grading to a base level. Peneplain, a gently undulating, almost featureless plain that would be formed in theory by fluvial erosion that would reduce the land almost to base level (sea level) over geologic time, leaving so little gradient that no further erosion could occur. Since such plains are not perfectly level, they are often referred to as 'Peneplains.' Such plains can be found in Canada's lowlands, West Siberia plain, Finland plain, Hudson Bay, and the United States' Lowlands. Peneplains can also be found in parts of India's peninsula.

2. Explain the Difference between Peneplain and Pediplain?

Ans: The terms peneplain and pediplain are often used interchangeably. Residual hills, which should have gentle slopes in Davis' peneplains but should have the same steepness as slopes in the early stages of erosion leading to pediplanation in pediplains, are one variation in shape that may exist. Pediment migration and extension over large areas are related to scarp retreat in the following way: as scarps retreat over the geological period, pediments migrate and spread over large areas. As a result, the soil is eroded mostly upwards, with no downward erosion. In contrast to popular belief, multiple pediplains can develop at different altitudes at the same time and do not necessarily grade to a base level. Pediplains are most commonly found in arid and semi-arid climates. Arid and semi-arid pediplanation periods can alternate with more humid  periods as climate changes, resulting in the formation of flattish surfaces (peneplains) of mixed origin (polygenetic)