Penza Oblast lies in the south-east of East European Plain (also called the Russian Plain). The region’s terrain encompasses the western part of the Volga Upland and the eastern point of the Oka-Don Lowland. Sura plateau is a higher area bordering the Sura - the main river of the region. The plateau lies on the right bank of the Sura, along 1/5th of its length.
Around 60 thousand hectares of the land is under gullies, even more is occupied by dry stream beds.
The highest points in the region are: Surskaya Shishka hill - 320 metres, Surscko-Mokshanskaya and Kerensko-Chembarskaya uplands at 270-290 metres.
The geology of the region, especially its western part, was influenced by the major glaciation that occurred 300-500 thousand years ago. Under the influence of glaciers, the hilly relief was flattened and the low lying areas became more level.