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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Trango Towers in Pakistan. Their vertical faces are the world's tallest cliffs. Trango Tower center; Trango Monk center left; Trango II far left; Great Trango right.
Europe's tallest cliff, Troll wall in Norway. A famous BASE location for jumpers from around the world.

In geography and geology, a cliff is a significant vertical, or near vertical, rock exposure. Cliffs are formed as erosion landforms due to the processes of erosion and weathering that produce them. Cliffs are common on coasts, in mountainous areas, escarpments and along rivers. Cliffs are usually formed by rock that is resistant to erosion and weathering. Sedimentary rocks are most likely to form sandstone, limestone, chalk, and dolomite. Igneous rocks, such as granite and basalt also often form cliffs.

An escarpment (or scarp) is a type of cliff, formed by the movement of a geologic fault, or a landslide.

Most cliffs have some form of scree slope at their base. In arid areas or under high cliffs, these are generally exposed jumbles of fallen rock. In areas of higher moisture, a soil slope may obscure the talus. Many cliffs also feature tributary waterfalls or rock shelters. Sometimes a cliff peters out at the end of a ridge, with tea tables or other types of rock columns remaining.

The Ordnance Survey distinguishes between cliffs (continuous line along the top edge with projections down the face) and outcrops (continuous lines along lower edge).

Nanga Parbat, highest cliff (rock wall, mountain face) in the world

Contents

Large and famous cliffs

See also Category: Cliffs

Cliffs near Sortavala, Russia
Cliffs along the north shore of Isfjorden, Svalbard, Norway.
Close-up view of Verona Rupes, a 20 km high fault scarp on Miranda, a moon of Uranus.[1]

Given that a cliff need not be exactly vertical, there can be ambiguity about whether a given slope is a cliff or not, and also about how much of a certain slope to count as a cliff. For example, given a truly vertical rock wall above a very steep slope, one could count only the rock wall, or the combination. This makes listings of cliffs an inherently uncertain endeavor.

Some of the largest cliffs on Earth are found underwater. For example, an 8000 metres drop over an only 4250 metre span can be found at a ridge sitting inside the Kermadec Trench.

The highest cliff (rock wall, mountain face) in the world, is Nanga Parbat's Rupal Flank in the Himalayas, that rises 4600 metres above its base. According to other sources, the highest cliff in the world, about 1,340 m high, is the east face of Great Trango in the Karakoram mountains of northern Pakistan. This uses a fairly stringent notion of cliff, as the 1,340 m figure refers to a nearly vertical headwall; adding in a very steep approach brings the total height to over 1,600 m.

The location of the world's highest sea cliffs depends also on the definition of 'cliff' that is used. The Guinness record books claim it is Kalaupapa, Hawaii[2], at 1,010 m high. Another contender is the north face of Mitre Peak, which drops 1683 metres to Milford Sound, New Zealand [3]. These are subject to a less stringent definition, as the average slope of these cliffs at Kaulapapa is about 1.7, corresponding to an angle of 60 degrees, and Mitre Peak is similar. A more vertical drop into the sea can be found at Maujit Qaqarssuasia (also known as the 'Thumbnail') which is situated in the Torssakutak fjord area at the very tip of South Greenland and drops 1560m near-vertically[4][5].

Considering a truly vertical drop, Mount Thor on Baffin Island in Arctic Canada is often considered the highest at 1,370 m (4,500 ft) high in total (the top 480 m (1,600 ft) is overhanging), and is said to give it the longest purely vertical drop on Earth at 1,250 m (4,100 ft). There is some doubt as to whether this height is exceeded by other cliffs on Baffin Island or in Greenland, however.

The highest cliff in the solar system may be Verona Rupes, an approximately 20 km (12 mile) high fault scarp on Miranda, a moon of Uranus.

The following is an incomplete list of cliffs of the world.

Asia

Above Land

Europe

Above Sea

Above Land

North America

Mount Thor, Baffin Island, Nunavut, Canada, commonly regarded as the highest purely vertical drop on Earth
Southwest face of El Capitan from Yosemite Valley
The face of Notch Peak at sunset

Several big granite faces in the Arctic regions vie for the title of 'highest purely vertical drop on Earth', but reliable measurements are not always available. The possible contenders include (measurements are approximate):

  • Mount Thor, Baffin Island, Canada; 1,370 m (4,500 ft) total; top 480 m (1,600 ft) is overhanging. This is commonly regarded as being the largest purely vertical drop on Earth at 1,250 m (4,100 ft).
  • The sheer north face of Polar Sun Spire, in the Sam Ford fjord of Baffin Island, has been reported as exceeding Mount Thor's west face in height [6].
  • Ketil's west face in Tasermiut, Greenland (also known as God's Thumbnail), has been reported as 1,400 m - 1,450 m high, (although some doubt has been cast on this)[7][8].

Other notable cliffs include:

South America

File:Pedrazul perfect.jpg
Pedra Azul State Park, Brazil.

Africa

Above Sea

Above Land

  • Drakensberg Amphitheatre, South Africa 1200 m above base, 5 km long. The Tugela Falls, the world's second tallest waterfall, falls 948 m over the edge of the cliff face.
  • Mount Meru, Tanzania Caldera Cliffs, 1500 m
  • Klein Winterhoek, Western Cape, South Africa, 1220 m above base.
  • Tsaranoro, Madagascar, 700 m above base
  • Karambony, Madagascar, 380 m above base.
  • Innumerable peaks in the Drakensberg mountains of South Africa are spectacular cliff formations. The Drakensberg Range is regarded, together with Ethiopia's Simien Mountains, as one of the two finest erosional mountain ranges on Earth. Because of their near-unique geological formation, the range has an extraordinarily high percentage of cliff faces making up its length, particularly along the highest portion of the range. This portion of the range is virtually uninterrupted cliff faces, ranging from 600m to 1200m in height for almost 250 km. Of all, the "Drakensberg Amphitheatre" (mentioned above) is probably the most impressive individual formation. Other notable cliffs include the Trojan Wall, Cleft Peak, Injisuthi Triplets, Cathedral Peak, Monk's Cowl, Mnweni Butress etc. The cliff faces of the Blyde River Canyon, technically still part of the Drakensberg, may be over 800m, with the main face of the Swadini Buttress approximately 1000m tall.

Oceania

Above Sea

See also

References


Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also cliff

English

Proper noun

Singular
Cliff

Plural
-

Cliff

  1. A diminutive of the male given name Clifford.

Simple English

, in Norway.]] A cliff is a vertical or very steep natural wall. They are usually formed when erosion takes away soft material, revealing an exposed layer of hard rock. Cliffs are often found by the ocean, on mountains, in canyons, and along rivers. Cliffs are known for forming major geographical features such as waterfalls.

The tallest cliff in the solar system may be Verona Rupes, an approximately 20 km (12 mile) high cliff on Miranda, a moon of the planet Uranus. [1]

Contents

Major cliffs

Asia

Above Land

Europe

Above Sea

Above Land

  • Troll Wall, Norway 1100 m above base
  • Mięguszowiecki Szczyt north face rises to 1043 m above Morskie Oko lake level, High Tatras, Poland
  • Kjerag, Norway 984 m.
  • Mały Kieżmarski Szczyt (north face), Tatra Mountains, Slovakia about 900 m denivelation (vertical rise)
  • Giewont (north face), Tatra Mountains, Poland, 852 m above Polana Strążyska glade
  • Kazalnica Mięguszowiecka, Tatra Mountains, Poland 576 m above the Czarny Staw pod Rysami
  • The six great north faces of the Alps (Cima Grande di Lavaredo, Eiger, Grandes Jorasses, Matterhorn, Petit Dru and Piz Badile)

North America

  • Mount Thor, Baffin Island, Canada; 1,370 m (4,500 ft) total; top 480 m (1,600 ft) is overhanging. This is commonly regarded as being the largest purely vertical drop on Earth at 1,250 m (4,100 ft).
  • The sheer north face of Polar Sun Spire, in the Sam Ford fjord of Baffin Island, has been reported as exceeding Mount Thor's west face in height [2].
  • Ketil's west face in Tasermiut, Greenland(also known as God's Thumbnail), has been reported as 1,400 m - 1,450 m high, but there are arguments.[3][4].

Other notable cliffs include:

  • Mount Asgard, Baffin Island, Canada; vertical drop of about 1,200 m (4,000 ft).
  • A variety of other cliffs measured at approximately 1,000 m (3,280 ft) in height can be found along the Sam Ford fjord in Baffin Island, such as Walker Citadel, Kiguti Peak and Great Sail Peak, whilst there are others in Querbitter Fjord, and in Tasermiut, Greenland.
  • El Capitan, Yosemite Valley, Sierra Nevada, California, United States; about 900 m (3,000 ft) high
  • Northwest Face of Half Dome, near El Capitan; 1,340 m (4,400 ft) total, vertical portion about 610 m (2,000 ft)
  • Painted Wall in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado, United States; 685 m (2,250 ft)
  • The west face of Notch Peak in southwestern Utah, United States; a limestone cliff of about 670 m (2,200 ft)
  • All faces of Devil's Tower, Wyoming, United States
  • Various faces of Shiprock, New Mexico, United States
  • The North Face of North Twin Peak, Rocky Mountains, Alberta, Canada
  • All walls of the Stawamus Chief, Squamish, British Columbia, Canada
  • Calvert Cliffs along the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland
  • Mt Siyeh Glacier National Park North Face 4200 ft sheer cliff

South America

from Raton, Venezuela.]]
  • Autana Tepui, Venezuela stands 1,300 m above the forest floor.
  • Auyan Tepui, Venezuela, about 1000 m (location of Angel Falls) (the falls are 979 m, the highest in the world)
  • Pared de Gocta, Peru, 771 m
  • Fortaleza canyon, Aparados da Serra National Park, Brazil, about 720 m
  • Pedra Azul, Pedra Azul State Park, Espirito Santo, Brazil, 540 m
  • Pão de Açúcar/Sugar Loaf, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 395 m
  • All faces of Cerro Torre, Patagonia, Chile-Argentina
  • All faces of Cerro Chalten (Fitz Roy), Patagonia, Argentina-Chile
  • Various faces of the Torres del Paine group, Patagonia, Chile

Africa

Above Sea

Above Land

  • Drakensberg Amphitheatre, South Africa 1200 m above base, 5km long. The Tugela Falls, the world's second tallest waterfall, falls 948 m over the edge of the cliff face.
  • Mount Meru, Tanzania Caldera Cliffs, 1500 m
  • Klein Winterhoek, Western Cape, South Africa, 1220 m above base.

Oceania

Above Sea

References

Footnotes


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