Cuesta Landforms


Cuesta Landforms Have 2 Main Characteristics:

  1. Gently sloping ground formation
  2. Cliff or steep face drops from upper edge

Example of a Cuesta Landform:
Ondondaga Formation, New York State and Ontario
The cuesta picture above is of Jurassic Coast in Dorset, UK.  It also has a natural arch.

What is a Cuesta Landform?

A cuesta is a gently sloping ground formation that has a cliff or steep face dropping from the upper edge. Two or more of these may sometimes occur one after another, running parallel over an area of land.

How are Cuestas Formed?

Alternating layers of hard and soft rock can slope gently upward, eroding at the upper edge to form one or more cuestas in the ground. At the higher edge of the formation, soft rock erodes more easily than the hard rock layer above, forming a cliff or steep bank. The sloping formations are usually covered by soil and vegetation, and the rocky cliff or embankment may be exposed in some areas. In the desert, more of the rock formation may be exposed.

How Large is a Cuesta?

A cuesta can be just 20 feet wide to the upper edge and steep face below for example, or as much as a mile or more, depending on the slope and the height of the ridge or steep face dropping from the upper end of the formation. The length of a cuesta formation can be a few hundred feet or several hundred miles long.

Where can a cuesta be found?

Cuestas can be found in some plains regions. They occur more often near an ocean or large body of water.

Famous Cuestas

 Ondondaga Formation, New York State and Ontario
 Jurassic chalk White Horse Hills, UK
 Cotswolds, UK
 Côte d’Or and Côtes du Rhône regions of France

As part of the Onondaga Formation, In a portion of central and western New York State, a cuesta formation runs from the Hudson River westward across the state, passing the northern end of the Finger Lakes and to the city of Buffalo. The steep face of this formation is prominent in some areas and less visible in others.

Another cuesta formation of the Onondaga runs east and west through Ontario from Fort Erie to Windsor. In the coastal plains region of Texas north of the Gulf of Mexico there are multiple cuesta formations that lie parallel to the coast. Jurassic chalk White Horse Hills, UK, correct name, location and dimensions. Cotswolds, UK, correct name, location and dimensions.

The Côte d’Or and Côtes du Rhône regions of France are wine-growing country that have significant cuesta formations.

Cuesta definition:

A gently sloping formation with a cliff or steep face below the upper edge

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