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March 14, 2001

Whether they are above ground or below the ocean's surface, mountains not only reveal the continually shifting nature of the Earth, they also profoundly affect weather conditions, contain diverse wildlife and ecosystems and have even influenced human history and economics by determining trade routes and providing natural resources. Discover how mountains form and continue to change, explore their unique environments and study their impact on the world through these direct links on The Times Launch Point Web site:

Level 1

Mountain Formation: The Himalayas and the Appalachians are examples of "folded" mountains, created when tectonic plates push against each other. Learn about the four ways mountains can be formed (volcanic, erosional, fault-block and folded) and view photos of various types of mountain ranges.

Nancy Ferguson's Third Grade Class: Mt. Everest Home Page: What would it be like to climb the world's highest mountain? Learn all about Mt. Everest, including camp life, the dangers of climbing, snow science, native animals and plants, famous explorers, and the people who live on and around the mountain.

WWF: Virtual Wildlife: Wild Places: Discover how mountains can contain various plant communities and ecosystems depending upon the elevation, ranging from forests and grasslands to rocks, snow and ice.

Level 2

Volcano World: Volcanoes are mountains formed when hot magma forces its way through the Earth's crust. This extensive guide to volcanoes includes photos, video clips, explanations of plate tectonics, recent news reports of eruptions, and fun activities including how to build your own model volcano.

America's Roof Guide to the Highest Places in the U.S. and the World: View topographical maps, panoramas, animations and 3-D images of U.S. and world mountains. Read the latest mountain-related news.

NOVA Online: Surviving Denali: Discover the rigors of mountain climbing as you accompany an expedition to Denali (Mt. Whitney), the highest mountain in North America. Learn survival skills as you explore the science behind this mountain's extreme weather and atmospheric conditions.

Level 3

Dive and Discover: Expeditions to the Sea Floor: Join researchers as they study the mid-ocean ridge, a volcanic mountain range thousands of meters below the ocean's surface. View animations of plate tectonics and read expedition reports of underwater volcanoes and unique sea creatures.

Understanding Mountain Weather: View graphics and read explanations of how mountains influence the weather including such interesting phenomena as why higher elevations can sometimes be warmer than lower elevations.

Everest: Measure of a Mountain: How tall is the tallest mountain in the world? Find out how scientists use the global positioning system (GPS) to measure mountains and how this advanced satellite technology can determine if Mt. Everest is growing.



The answer to this Internet quiz can be found in the sites at right.

How are most isolated mountains formed?

CLUE: See Mountain Formation

Find What You Need to Know: Have a project on California history? Need help doing a math problem? Launch Point covers more than 150 topics for getting your schoolwork done. Go to for the full list of subjects and direct links to the best Internet sites.

Answer to last week's Quest: The Amazon rain forest receives nine feet of rain every year.

Launch Point is produced by the UC Irvine department of education, which reviews each site for appropriateness and quality. Even so, parents should supervise their children's use of the Internet. This column was designed by Mike Gutierrez, Laura Warhurst and Anna Manring.

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