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The land within Alberta’s borders can be subdivided into three major
geographical regions: the Canadian Shield Region, the Interior Plains Region,
and the Rocky Mountains and Foothills Region. Each of these regions carries
a unique set of geological structures and landforms that distinguish it from
the other regions.
The Canadian Shield Region underlies all the land in the province of Alberta,
but is exposed to the surface only in the extreme northeast corner of the
province, taking up about three percent of Alberta’s total land surface area.
This geographical region is distinguished by its high concentration of igneous
and metamorphic rocks such as granite and slate. The landscape of the Canadian
Shield Region features rock that has been eroded down to a flat, icy plain.
The Interior Plains Region takes up 87 percent of Alberta’s land surface area,
covering all of the land that lies between the Canadian Shield Region in the
northeast and the Rocky Mountains and Foothills Region along the western and
southwestern borders. The Interior Plains Region is made up primarily of
sedimentary rocks such as limestone, sandstone, and shale. The landscape of this
region, while also relatively flat, is the most varied of all of Alberta’s
geographical regions, ranging from deep, lush river valleys to stark, desert-like
The Rocky Mountains and Foothills Region is the second largest geographical
region in Alberta, taking up about 10 percent of Alberta’s land surface area.
Like the Interior Plains Region, the Rocky Mountains and Foothills Region is
made up primarily of sedimentary rocks, but it is distinguished from the Plains
Region in that the rocks of the Rocky Mountains and Foothills have been compressed
and thrust upwards into high elevated formations.
The geographical regions of Alberta each trace the geological age of various parts of the
Alberta landscape, as well as the dominant patterns of rock formation in particular areas.
This geological information is useful in understanding the earliest history of the land
that came to be known as Alberta.