Cliff Landforms

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A cliff has 2 main characteristics

  1. High and steep slope
  2. Made of rock or soil

Cliff Examples:

  1. Gray Cliff in Yosemite National Park
  2. Cliffs of Etretat in Normandy, France

What is a Cliff Landform?

A cliff is a tall rock formation with a face that is vertical or nearly vertical.

How are Cliffs Formed?

A cliff can be formed by glacier movements that cut and shape rock formations. Wave action from a river or sea coast can form a cliff by eroding soft rock formations. Wind, rain and freezing temperatures can also erode limestone and other soft rock formations to form a cliff. When hard rock layers that are more resistant to erosion lay on top of limestone or other soft rock, this can form a vertical cliff as the lower layers erode more easily.

How Large is a Cliff?

A cliff can be 10 feet high or hundreds of feet above the ground below. The longest line of cliffs in the world is found on the south coast of Australia and stretches for over 120 miles. The highest known cliff with a vertical drop is Mount Thor at 4,100 feet on Baffin Island in the arctic region of Canada. The tallest cliff face that is not vertical is the Rupal Face of Nanga Parbat, a mountain in China that stands over 26,000 feet above sea level. The Rupal Face rises 15,000 feet above the base of the cliff.

Where Can a Cliff Be Found?

Cliffs are common along many seacoasts where waves help to form them. They can also be found above valleys that were carved by glaciers. There are many cliffs in mountainous regions where there was glacier activity.

Famous Cliffs

  • White Cliffs of Dover, UK
  • Étretat, Haut-Normandie Region of France
  • Cliffs of Moher, Ireland
  • Hornelen Mountain, Island of Bremangerlandet, Norway

The White Cliffs of Dover in lower England overlook the Dover Strait, the nearest point to mainland Europe. The cliffs are an historic defensive position and scenic point of the island. The small town of Étretat in northwestern France is known for its beautiful cliffs on the seacoast that include 3 natural arches and a pointed rock formation known as the “needle”.

The Cliffs of Moher stand from 400 to 700 feet above the sea on the coast of Ireland, and attract thousands of visitors each day as the country’s most popular tourist destination. Hornelen Mountain of Norway on the Island of Bremangerlandet is the highest cliff overlooking a seacoast in Europe, standing 2,820 feet above the water.

Cliff definition:

A rock formation that stands high above its base with a vertical or nearly vertical face.

Related to a cliff are bluffs,  escarpments, fjords

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