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Atlas Mountains, series of hill ranges in northwestern Africa, running generally southwest come northeast to type the geologic backbone of the countries of the Maghrib (the western an ar of the Arab world)—Morocco, Algeria, and also Tunisia. They expand for an ext than 1,200 miles (2,000 kilometres), native the Moroccan harbor of Agadir in the southwest, to the Tunisian resources of Tunis in the northeast. Their thick rim rises to kind a high sill separating the Mediterranean container to the north from the Sahara come the south, for this reason constituting a obstacle that hinders, without completely preventing, communication in between the 2 regions. Across the mountains filter both wait masses and also human migrations. It is, however, only in the east–west direction the the Atlas mountains facilitate movement. These are the conditions that create at the very same time both the individuality and the homogeneity that the Atlas countries. Back the Saharan an ar is more likely to be defined as the archetypal phibìc African habitat, the is the well-watered mountains north that this large desert that administer the structure for the livelihood of many of the individuals of north Africa and a striking eco-friendly or white lift for numerous North afri towns.


The north section is developed by the phone call Atlas, i m sorry receives enough rainfall come bear well forests. From west to east several massifs (mountainous masses) occur. The an initial of these is Er-Rif, which forms a half-moon-shaped arc in Morocco between Ceuta and also Melilla; its crest heat exceeds 5,000 feet (1,500 metres) over sea level at numerous points, reaching 8,058 feet at mount Tidirhine. East of the gap created by the Moulouya river the Algerian arrays begin, amongst which the rough bastion of the Ouarsenis Massif (which get a height of 6,512 feet), the an excellent Kabylie, i beg your pardon reaches 7,572 feet in ~ the height of Lalla Khedidja, and the mountains of Kroumirie in Tunisia space all prominent.

The southerly section, which is subject to desert influences, is appropriately called the Saharan Atlas. It contains in the center a palisade formed by shorter ranges, such as the Ksour and also Ouled-Naïl mountains, grouped right into massifs in between two mighty ranges—the Moroccan High Atlas come the west and also the Aurès hills to the east. The High Atlas culminates in mount Toubkal in ~ 13,665 feet (4,165 metres), the highest point in the Atlas Mountains, i beg your pardon is surrounding by high snowcapped peaks; the Aurès hills are formed of lengthy parallel folds, which with a height of 7,638 feet at mount Chelia.

The phone call Atlas and the Saharan Atlas merge in the west into the lengthy folds of the middle Atlas and in the eastern join together in the Tébessa and also Medjerda mountains.


If the relief the the Atlas an ar is reasonably simple, that geology is complex. In essence, the 2 Atlases make up two different structural regions.

The phone call Atlas originally developed out of a basin filled with sediment, which was dominated to the north by a marginal rim, of which the massifs of Tizi Ouzou, Collo, and also Edough are the remnants. That elevation take it place throughout a an extensive mountain-building process that was marked by turmoils in the Paleogene and Neogene periods (i.e., about 65 to 2.6 million years ago); over the swarm of folds the were uplifted indigenous the rift valley were spread out sheets of flysch (deposits the sandstones and also clays), i beg your pardon were brought down indigenous the north end the optimal of the marginal rim. For this reason the tell Atlas represents an instance of a young folded mountain selection still in the procedure of formation, together is presented by the planet tremors to which it is subject.

To the south the Saharan Atlas belonging to an additional structural grouping, that of the huge plateaus that the african continent, which type part the the old base rock mostly covered through sediments deposited by shallow seas and by alluvial deposits. The Saharan Atlas is the an outcome either of the mighty urgently of the substructure that raised up pieces of the base rock—such together the horst (uplifted block that the earth crust), which constitutes the Moroccan High Atlas—or else of the crumpling right into folds that the earth crust during the Jurassic period (about 200 come 145 million year ago) and also the Cretaceous period (about 145 to 65 million year ago).


The seasonal personality of the rains, which autumn in torrents, determines the attributes of drainage in the Atlas: the runoff feeds streams that are of great erosive capacity and also that have reduced their method down with the thickness of collected layers the sediment to kind deep narrow gorges daunting to cross. The pre-Roman fortress that Cirta (now called Constantine) in Algeria stands on a absent sculptured the end by one together stream, the winding Rhumel River.

The an excellent Maghribian wadis (French: oueds; channels of watercourses that space dry except during periods the rain) worry from the Atlas ranges. Amongst the an ext perennial rivers are the Moulouya, which rises from the center Atlas, and the Chelif, i beg your pardon rises native the Amour Mountains. Devastating of the soils of your headstreams, they deposit their loads of silt in ~ the foot the the mountain ranges or else leaving a long line that conical shop locally known as dirs (“hills”).

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Good soil is sporadic at greater altitudes in the Atlas region. Most frequently nothing is to it is in found however bare rock, debris, and also fallen materials incessantly fix up by landslides. Two materials predominate—limestone, which forms ledges that are half-buried in rough debris, and marls (chalky clays) cut by erosion into a maze that ravines and also crumbling gullies. The rarer sandstones favour woodland growth. The best soils room the alluvia uncovered on the terraced slopes and also on the sink bottoms.