They are bounded on the south by a fault system called the Main Frontal Thrust, with steeper slopes on that side. Below this, the coarse alluvial Bhabar zone makes the transition to the nearly level plains. Rainfall, especially during the summer monsoon, percolates into the bhabar, then is forced to the surface by finer alluvial layers below it in a zone of springs and marshes along the northern edge of the Terai or plains.
North of the Sivalik Hills the 1,500-3,000 meter Lesser Himalayas also known as the Mahabharat Range rise steeply along fault lines. In many places the two ranges are adjacent but in other places structural valleys 10–20 km wide separate them.