What type of landforms are found in the Chihuahuan Desert?

There are many types of landforms in the Chihuahuan Desert. By and large they differ significantly from the types of landforms we associate with more mesic environments.

Two characteristic landform assemblages are the "Basin and Range" terrain, and the "Mesa and Scarp" terrain. Basins are usually wide- ranging, flat areas that lie between mountain ranges. They are made of material that has eroded from the surrounding mountain ranges. Basins may contain playas, playettes, sand sheets and hardpans of various types. Rocky basins may be described as hamadas made of exposed bedrock or of various desert pavements, or they may be merely flat and rocky in which case they are called regs.

Ranges erode to form plateaus, mesas, buttes, and pinnacles. The flat tops of these mountains are created by differential weathering down to resistant caprocks and/or hardpans. The escarpments are surrounded by taluses and various piedmont slope (bajada) type landforms, including alluvial fans along with their associated remnants, collars, ballenas, coppice dunes, and terraces. Sometimes inselbergs arise from the basin floor.

Water-generated landforms include drainage channels which are usually described according to their size using landform-words like canyons, ravines, gullies, washes, drainages, or wadis. Great ergs (large areas covered with mobile sand dunes) are less frequent, but do exist, and dunes have an encyclopedic range of landform descriptions.

No discussion of Chihuahuan Desert landforms would be complete without including badlands. These complicatedly eroded areas are usually made mostly of massive deposits of various types of soft argillic materials (clays) or calcic materials. Badlands are created by the rapid erosion of these very soft materials. Badlands made of argillic materials usually have little or no vegetation because rapid shrinking and swelling of these materials disrupts roots of seedlings and prevents their establishment.

This is actually only a short list of typical desert landforms found in the Chihuahuan. Most of these landforms are themselves made of other features, which are described by separate groups of technical terms. A thorough answer to this question could form the basis of a nice book!
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