Mesa vs. Plateau - What's the difference?

Main Difference

The main difference between Mesa and Plateau is that the Mesa is a elevated area of land with a flat top and sides that are usually steep cliffs and Plateau is a high flat terrain.

Wikipedia

  • Mesa

    Mesa (Spanish and Portuguese for table) is the American English term for tableland, an elevated area of land with a flat top and sides that are usually steep cliffs. It takes its name from its characteristic table-top shape. It may also be called a table hill, table-topped hill or table mountain. It is larger than a butte, which it otherwise resembles closely. It is a characteristic landform of arid environments, particularly the Western and Southwestern United States in badlands and mountainous regions ranging from Washington and California to the Dakotas, Wyoming, Utah, Oklahoma, and Texas. Examples are also found in many other nations including Spain, Sardinia, North and South Africa, Arabia, India, and Australia. Grand Mesa is a large mesa located in western Colorado in the Southwest United States. Cerro Negro is a mesa in Argentina.

  • Plateau

    In geology and physical geography a plateau ( , or ; plural plateaus or plateaux), is also called a high plain or a tableland. It is an area of a highland, usually consisting of relatively flat terrain that is raised significantly above the surrounding area, often with one or more sides with steep slopes. Plateaus can be formed by a number of processes, including upwelling of volcanic magma, extrusion of lava, and erosion by water and glaciers. Plateaus are classified according to their surrounding environment as intermontane, piedmont, or continental.

Wiktionary

  • Mesa (noun)

    Flat area of land or plateau higher than other land, with one or more clifflike edges

    "A few more miles of hot sand and Little Colorado."

  • Plateau (noun)

    A largely level expanse of land at a high elevation; tableland.

  • Plateau (noun)

    A comparatively stable level in something that varies.

  • Plateau (noun)

    An ornamental dish for the table; a tray or salver.

  • Plateau (noun)

    A notable level of attainment or achievement.

  • Plateau (verb)

    To reach a stable level; to level off.

Oxford Dictionary

  • Mesa (noun)

    an isolated flat-topped hill with steep sides, found in landscapes with horizontal strata.

  • Plateau (noun)

    an area of fairly level high ground.

  • Plateau (noun)

    denoting a group of North American peoples of the high plains of western Canada and the US, including the Nez Percé.

  • Plateau (noun)

    a state of little or no change following a period of activity or progress

    "the peace process had reached a plateau"

  • Plateau (verb)

    reach a state of little or no change after a period of activity or progress

    "the industry's problems have plateaued out"

Webster Dictionary

  • Mesa

    A high tableland; a plateau on a hill.

  • Plateau (noun)

    A flat surface; especially, a broad, level, elevated area of land; a table-land.

  • Plateau (noun)

    An ornamental dish for the table; a tray or salver.

Princeton's WordNet

  • Mesa (noun)

    flat tableland with steep edges;

    "the tribe was relatively safe on the mesa but they had to descend into the valley for water"

  • Mesa (noun)

    a city just east of Phoenix; originally a suburb of Phoenix

  • Plateau (noun)

    a relatively flat highland

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