A cross-section through a rift valley showing folds and faulting in the rocks. Sliding plates and drifting continents are responsible for some of the Earth’s major landscape features. If a large slab or plate of the Earth’s surface is gradually squeezed, the solid rock slowly wrinkles and crumples. Its layers become wavy folds. When, in other places, rocks are stretched or bent they crack or split along weak points. These cracks are known as faults. They may be straight or zigzag and form narrow slits or wide valleys.
An anticline is a fold in the rocks which is curved upwards like an arch with the oldest rock layers at its core. A syncline is a fold that is curved downwards in a U- or V-shape, with the youngest rocks in its core.
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