A cliff is a steep slope of earth materials, usually a rock face, that is nearly vertical and may be overhanging.
Cliffs are formed as erosion landforms by the processes of weathering and erosion.
They are usually formed by rock that is resistant to weathering and erosion.
Sedimentary rocks most likely to form cliffs include sandstone, limestone, chalk, and dolomite. Igneous rocks such as granite and basalt also often form cliffs.
Cliffs occur frequently in nature along coasts, riverbeds and in mountainous regions.
Cliffs are known for forming major geographical features such as waterfalls.
Some of the largest cliffs on Earth are found underwater. For example, an 8,000 m (26,250 ft) drop over a 4,250 m (13,950 ft) span can be found at a ridge sitting inside the Kermadec Trench.
The tallest cliff in the solar system may be Verona Rupes, an approximately 20 kilometers (12 mile) high cliff on Miranda, a moon of the planet Uranus.
Given that a cliff does not need to 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. Listings of cliffs are thus inherently uncertain.
One candidate for highest cliff in the world is Nanga Parbat’s Rupal Face, which rises approximately 4,600 m (15,000 ft), above its base.
According to other sources, the highest cliff in the world, about 1,340 m (4,400 ft) high, is the east face of Great Trango [photo below] 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 of two stacked pillars – adding in a very steep approach brings the total drop from the East Face precipice to the nearby Dunge Glacier to nearly 2,000 m (6,600 ft).
The world’s highest sea cliffs once again depend on the definition of ‘cliff’. According to Guinness World Records, it is Kalaupapa on Hawaii, which is 1,010 m (3,314 ft) high. Another contender is the north face of Mitre Peak, which drops 1,683 m to Milford Sound, New Zealand.
On the west coast of Ireland the Cliffs of Moher are one of the most famous clifs in the world. They rise to 120 meters (390 feet) above the Atlantic Ocean at Hag’s Head, and reach their maximum height of 214 meters (702 feet) just north of O’Brien’s Tower, eight kilometers to the north. The Cliffs of Moher are one of Ireland’s most popular tourist attractions and receive more than one million visitors a year.
The White Cliffs of Dover, part of the North Downs formation, is the region of English coastline facing the Strait of Dover and France. The cliff face, which reaches a height of 110 m (350 ft), owes its striking appearance to its composition of chalk accented by streaks of black flint. A section of coastline encompassing the cliffs was purchased by the National Trust in 2016.
Preikestolen is a tourist attraction in Norway. It is a steep cliff which rises 604 metres (1,982 ft) above the Lysefjorden. Atop the cliff, there is an almost flat top of approximately 25 by 25 metres
(82 ft × 82 ft). The cliff was formed during the ice age, approximately 10,000 years ago, when the edges of the glacier reached the cliff.
El Capitan is a cliff in Yosemite National Park, located on the north side of Yosemite Valley, near its western end. The cliff is about 914 m (3,000 ft) from base to summit along its tallest face, and is a popular objective for rock climbers.
The Amphitheatre is one of the geographical features of the Northern Drakensberg, South Africa, and is widely regarded as one of the most impressive cliff faces on earth. The cliff face of the Amphitheatre is roughly three times the size of the total combined area of all the cliff faces in El Capitan, and more than 10 times the size of El Capitan’s most famous (South Western) face. It is part of the Royal Natal National Park.
Nestled in a sheltered cove on Normandy’s beautiful Alabaster Coast, Étretat is best known for the weather-beaten white cliffs that surround the charming French coastal town. While Étretat might not boast the heights of some dramatic rock faces, the picturesque cliffs are home to a beautiful natural arch and needle and the town’s seashore has provided inspiration for many artists over the years, including Realist painter Gustave Courbet and Impressionist master Claude Monet.
The Meteora is a rock formation in central Greece hosting one of the largest and most precipitously built complexes of Eastern Orthodox monasteries, second in importance only to Mount Athos. The six (of an original twenty four) monasteries are built on immense natural pillars and cliffs that dominate the local area. It is located near the town of Kalambaka at the northwestern edge of the Plain of Thessaly near the Pineios river and Pindus Mountains. Meteora is included on the UNESCO World Heritage List under criteria I, II, IV, V, and VII.
The word “cliff” comes from the Old English word clif of essentially the same meaning, cognate with Dutch, Low German, and Old Norse klif ‘cliff’. These may in turn all be from a Romance loanword into Primitive Germanic that has its origins in the Latin forms clivus / clevus (“slope” or “hillside”).
Cliff jumping is jumping off a cliff as a form of sport. When done without equipment, it may be also known as tombstoning. It forms part of the sport of coastal exploration or “coasteering”. The world record for cliff jumping is currently held by Laso Schaller, with a jump of 58.8 m (193 ft).
The Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series, established in 2009 and created by Red Bull, is an annual international series of cliff diving events in which a limited number of competitors determine the Cliff Diving World Series winner. Divers jump from a platform at a height ranging from 26 to 28 m (85to 92 ft). Competitions are held in a limited number of venues around the globe.
BASE jumping is the recreational sport of jumping from fixed objects, using a parachute to descend safely to the ground. “BASE” is an acronym that stands for four categories of fixed objects from which one can jump: building, antenna, span, and earth (cliff). Participants exit from a fixed object such as a cliff, and after an optional freefall delay, deploy a parachute to slow their descent and land.