Apr 5, 2019

Butte vs. Mesa vs. Plateau

A butte is a prominent isolated hill with steep sides and a small, flat top. The word “butte" comes from a French word meaning “small hill." Buttes are taller than they are wide

A mesa is distinguished from the butte by its much larger size. Buttes usually have a surface area of less than 10,000 square feet. Mesas can have as much as four square miles of surface area. Mesas are wider than they are tall.

Many plateaus form as magma deep inside the earth pushes toward the surface, but fails to break through the crust. Instead, the magma lifts up the large, flat, impenetrable rock above it.

Butte: a small isolated piece of highland.
Mesa: a large isolated piece of highland.
Plateau: a large area of highlands, not necessarily isolated (often delimited in just one side by a cliff).

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