I usually say I live in the Ozark Mountains, but "mountain" is a generic term largely based upon appearance. If you have hills and valleys, the combination of the two is called "mountains". In geologic terms, it would be more correct to say I live on the Ozark Plateau because the Ozarks are actually a dissected plateau. Most mountain ranges were formed when geologic events -- like the collision of tectonic plates -- caused the earth's crust to buckle and fold, uplifting mountains and leaving valleys between them. By contrast, the entire area known as the Ozarks (northern Arkansas, southern Missouri, a bit of eastern Oklahoma and a tiny corner of southeastern Kansas) was uplifted as a plateau with relatively little buckling and folding.. Over millions of years since the uplift, valleys eroded into the plateau leaving hills behind.
Being a dissected plateau gives the Ozarks some unique features. Our mountain tops tend to be flat. The decent into valleys is rugged and steep. The various strata of sedimentary rock deposited before the Ozark Plateau was uplifted remain in place just like they were laid down millions of years ago. There is little of the scrambling of strata that occurs when the earth's crust is folded and buckled. Geologist can easily follow a particular rock stratum over a wide geographic area.
|Overview of the Ozark Plateau and its four main regions. (Wikipedia)|
Side Note: The origin of the name "Ozarks" is disputed. Many think it is a linguistic corruption of the French abbreviation aux Arks (short for aux Arkansas, or "of Arkansas" in English) which originally referred to the French trading post at Arkansas Post, but eventually came to refer to all Ozark Plateau drainage into the Arkansas and Missouri Rivers. Other possible derivations include aux arcs meaning "of the arches" in reference to the dozens of natural bridges formed by erosion and collapsed caves in the Ozark region. (Source: Wikipedia)
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