So rapid has been the land elevation of Central Afghanistan that the erosive action of rivers has not been able to keep pace with that of upheaval; and the result all through Afghanistan (but specially marked in the great central highlands between Kabul and Herat) is the formation of those immensely deep gorges and defiles which are locally known as darns.
Characteristic of the country are the enormous fissures which divide it, formed in the course of ages by the erosive action of water.
Instead of wide, barren, wind-swept valleys, here are found fertile alluvial plains - such as Manipur - but for the most part the erosive action of the river has been able to keep pace with the rise of the river bed, and we have deep, steep-sided valleys eating their way northwards owing to the greater rainfall on the southern than on the northern slopes.
Much of the ruggedness and beauty of the mountains is due to the erosive action of many alpine glaciers that once existed on the higher summits, and which have left behind their evidences in valleys and amphitheatres with towering walls, polished rock-expanses, glacial lakes and meadows and tumbling waterfalls.
Much discussion has arisen as to their mode of origin, but it is probable they were caused by the erosive action of ice, since glaciers occupied the glens where they occur and wore down the rocks along the sides and bottom; but it is a point of difficulty in this theory whether ice could have eroded the deepest of the hollows.
That a rapid subsidence did take place from the higher level is indicated by the fact that between it and the present level there is an absence of indications of erosive energy.
The weathering of this desert area is probably faimly rapid, and the agents at work are principally the rapid heating and cooling of the rocks by day and night, and the erOsive action of sand-laden wind on the softer lnyers; these, aided by the occasional rain, are ceaselessly at work, and produce the successive plateaus, dotted with small isolated hills and cut up by valleys (wadis) which occasionally become deep ravines, thus foiming the principal type of scenery of these deserts.
West of the Cordillera Oriental, where special conditions prevail, a great desert plateau stretches entirely across one corner of the republic. Apart from the Andean system there is a group of low, broken, gneiss ranges stretching along the east side of Bolivia among the upper affluents of the Mamore and Guapore, which appear to belong to the older Brazilian orographic system, from which they have been separated by the erosive action of water.
The denuded mountain slopes and plateaus of southern Mexico are due to the prehistoric inhabitants who cleared away the tropical forest for their Indian corn fields, and then left them to the erosive action of the tropical rains and subsequent occupation by coarse grasses.