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 most likely to form cliffs include 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. Coastal erosion may lead to the formation of sea cliffs along a receding coastline.
The Ordnance Survey distinguishes between cliffs (continuous line along the top edge with projections down the face) and outcrops (continuous lines along lower edge).
Large and famous cliffs See also category: Cliffs
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 8,000-metre drop over a 4,250-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, which rises approximately 4,600 metres, or 15,000 feet, 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, at 1,010 m high. Another contender is the north face of Mitre Peak, which drops 1683 metres to Milford Sound, New Zealand. 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 Torssukátak fjord area at the very tip of South Greenland and drops 1,560 m near-vertically.
Considering a truly vertical drop, Mount Thor on Baffin Island in Arctic Canada is often considered the highest at 1370 m (4500 ft) high in total (the top 480 m (1600 ft) is overhanging), and is said to give it the longest purely vertical drop on Earth at 1,250 m (4,100 ft). However, cliffs on Baffin Island, such as Polar Sun Spire, or others in remote areas of Greenland may be higher.
The highest cliff in the solar system may be Verona Rupes, an approximately 20 km (12 mi) high fault scarp on Miranda, a moon of Uranus.
The following is an incomplete list of cliffs of the world.
Above SeaThe Cliff of Kurosakitakao, Mikurajima, Tokyo prefecture, Japan 480 m above Pacific OceanMatengai, Oki Islands, Shimane prefecture, Japan 257 m above Sea of JapanSenba-kaigai, Minami, Tokushima prefecture, Japan 250 m above Pacific OceanChibu-sekiheki, Oki Islands, Shimane prefecture, Japan 200 m above Sea of JapanSenzoku-dangai, Shinonsen, Hyogo prefecture, Japan 180 m above Sea of JapanYoroinosode, Kami, Hyogo prefecture, Japan 65 m above Sea of JapanSandanbeki, Shirahama, Wakayama prefecture, Japan 60 m above Pacific OceanTojinbo, Sakai, Fukui prefecture, Japan 25 m above Sea of Japan
Above LandNanga Parbat, Rupal Face, Azad Kashmir, Pakistan, 4,600 mUltar Sar southwest face, Karakoram, Northern Areas, Pakistan, 3,000 mTrango Towers: East Face Great Trango Tower, Baltoro Muztagh, Northern Areas, Pakistan, 1,340 m (near vertical)Uli Biaho Towers, Baltoro Glacier, Northern Areas, PakistanBaintha Brakk (The Ogre), Panmah Muztagh, Northern Areas, Pakistan, 1,600 mThe Latok Group, Panmah Muztagh, Northern Areas, Pakistan, 1,800 mSpantik northwest face, Karakoram, Northern Areas, Pakistan, 2,000 mShispare Sar southwest face, Karakoram, Northern Areas, Pakistan, 3,200 mSkamri Sar north face, Karakoram, Northern Areas, Pakistan, 1,500 mHunza Peak south face, Karakoram, Northern Areas, Pakistan, 1,700 mAmin Brakk southeast face, Karakoram, Northern Areas, Pakistan, 1,200 m (near vertical)Lhotse south face, Mahalangur Himal, Nepal, 2600 mMeru Peak, Uttarakhand, India, 1200 mRamon Crater, Israel, 400 mVarious cliffs in the Ak-Su Valley of Kyrgyzstan are high and steep.
Above SeaHornelen, Norway, 860 m above FrøysjøenCape Enniberg, Faroe Islands, 750 m above North AtlanticCroaghaun, Achill Island, Ireland, 688 m above Atlantic OceanVixía Herbeira, Northern Galicia, Spain, 621 m above Atlantic OceanPreikestolen, Norway, 604 m above LysefjordenSlieve League, Ireland, 601 m above Atlantic OceanCabo Girão, Madeira, Portugal, 589 m above Atlantic OceanMonte Solaro, Capri, Italy, 589 m above the Mediterranean SeaJaizkibel, Spain, 547 m above the Bay of BiscayBeinisvørð, Faroe Islands, 470 m above North AtlanticConachair, St Kilda, Scotland 427 m above Atlantic OceanCap Canaille, France, 394 m above Mediterranean sea is the highest sea cliff in FrancePíncaro Serra do Risco, Portugal, 381 m above Atlantic Ocean is the highest sea cliff in Continental PortugalThe Kame, Foula, Shetland Islands, Scotland, 378 Metres above sea level, and the second highest sea cliff in the U.K.St John's Head (Hoy Orkney Islands Scotland) at 335 m is the most vertical sea cliff in the UKHangman cliffs, Devon 318 m above Bristol Channel is the highest sea cliff in EnglandBenwee Head Cliffs, Erris, Co. Mayo, Ireland, 304 m above Atlantic OceanDingli Cliffs, Malta, 250 m above Mediterranean seaHigh Cliff, between Boscastle and St Gennys, 223 metres above Celtic SeaCliffs of Moher, Ireland, 217 m above Atlantic OceanBoulby Cliffs, North Yorkshire , England, 203 m above the North Sea are the highest cliffs on the East CoastCap de la Nau, Spain, 200 m above Mediterranean seaBeachy Head, England, 162 m above the English ChannelMøns Klint, Denmark, 143 m above Baltic SeaWhite cliffs of Dover, England, 100 m above the Strait of DoverStrunjan cliff, Slovenia, 80 m above the Adriatic SeaSnake Island, Ukraine, 41 m above the Black Sea
Above LandTroll Wall, Norway 1,100 m above baseMięguszowiecki Szczyt north face rises to 1,043 m above Morskie Oko lake level, High Tatras, PolandKjerag, 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 gladeKazalnica Mięguszowiecka, Tatra Mountains, Poland 576 m above the Czarny Staw pod RysamiThe six great north faces of the Alps (Cima Grande di Lavaredo 450 m, Eiger 1,500 m, Grandes Jorasses 1,100 m, Matterhorn 1,350 m, Petit Dru 1,000 m, and Piz Badile 850 m)
North America Mount Thor, Baffin Island, Nunavut, Canada, commonly regarded as the highest purely vertical drop on Earth
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 (1600 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.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).
Other notable cliffs include:Mount Asgard, Baffin Island, Canada; vertical drop of about 1,200 m (4,000 ft).Vertical 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, while there are others in Querbitter Fjord, and in Tasermiut, Greenland.El Capitan, Yosemite Valley, Sierra Nevada, California, United States; 900 m (3,000 ft)Toroweap (a.k.a Tuweep), Grand Canyon, Arizona, United States; 900 m (3,000 ft)Painted Wall in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado, United States; 685 m (2,250 ft)Northwest Face of Half Dome, near El Capitan; 1,340 m (4,400 ft) total, vertical portion about 610 m (2,000 ft)The west face of Notch Peak in the House Range of southwestern Utah, U.S.; a carbonate rock pure vertical drop of about 670 m (2,200 ft), with 4,450 feet (1,356 m) from the top of the cliff to valley floor (bottom of the canyon below the notch)East face of the West Temple in Zion National Park Utah, believed to be the tallest sandstone cliff in the world, 670 mAll faces of Devils Tower, Wyoming, United States, 195 mFaces of Shiprock, New Mexico, United States, 400 mThe North Face of North Twin Peak, Rocky Mountains, Alberta, Canada, 1,200 mAll walls of the Stawamus Chief, Squamish, British Columbia, Canada, up to 500 mCalvert Cliffs along the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, U.S. 25 mMount Siyeh, Glacier National Park (U.S.) north face, 1,270 m (4,170 ft)Longs Peak Diamond, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, 400 mRoyal Gorge cliffs, Colorado, 350 mDoublet Peak, southwest face, Wind River Range, Wyoming, 370 mPingora, southeast face, Wind River Range, Wyoming, 360 mWarbonnet Peak, northeast face, Wind River Range, Wyoming, 470 mBig Sandy Mountain, east face buttress, Wind River Range, Wyoming, 550 mTemple Peak, east face, Wind River Range, Wyoming, 400 mEast Temple Peak, north face, Wind River Range, Wyoming, 450 mLost Temple Spire, Wind River Range, Wyoming, 430 mUncompahgre Peak, northeast face, San Juan Range, Colorado, 275 m (550 m rise above surrounding plateau)Grand Teton, north face Teton Range, Wyoming 760 m (2,490 ft)
South America Salto Angel from Isla Ratón, Venezuela.Pared Sur Cerro Aconcagua. Las Heras, Mendoza, Argentina, 2,700 mScratched Stone (Pedra Riscada), São José do Divino/MG, Minas Gerais, Brazil, 1,480 mAutana Tepui, Venezuela stands 1,300 m above the forest floor.Auyan Tepui, Venezuela, about 1,000 m (location of Angel Falls) (the falls are 979 m, the highest in the world)Pared de Gocta, Peru, 771 mFortaleza canyon, Serra Geral National Park, Brazil, about 720 mItaimbezinho canyon, Aparados da Serra National Park, about 700 mPedra Azul, Pedra Azul State Park, Espirito Santo, Brazil, 540 mPão de Açúcar/Sugar Loaf, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 395 mGuarita Beach, Torres, Rio Grande do Sul, BrazilAll faces of Cerro Torre, Patagonia, Chile-ArgentinaAll faces of Cerro Chalten (Fitz Roy), Patagonia, Argentina-Chile, 1200 mFaces of the Torres del Paine group, Patagonia, Chile, up to 900 m
Above SeaKogelberg, Western Cape, South Africa, 1,289 m (4,229 ft) above False Bay, Atlantic OceanTable Mountain, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa, 1,086 m (3,563 ft) above Atlantic OceanFountain Peak, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa, 1,060 m (3,480 ft) above Atlantic OceanRisco de Faneque, Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Spain, 1,027 m (3,369 ft) above Atlantic OceanBlinkwater Peak, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa, 989 m (3,245 ft) above Atlantic OceanGrootkop Buttress, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa, 857 m (2,812 ft) above Atlantic OceanValken Buttress, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa, 856 m (2,808 ft) above Atlantic OceanBarrier Buttress, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa, 856 m (2,808 ft) above Atlantic OceanGrotto Buttress, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa, 800 m (2,600 ft) above Atlantic OceanJubilee Buttress, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa, 800 m (2,600 ft) above Atlantic OceanKloof Buttress, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa, 800 m (2,600 ft) above Atlantic OceanPorcupine Buttress, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa, 800 m (2,600 ft) above Atlantic OceanSlangolie Buttress, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa, 788 m (2,585 ft) above Atlantic OceanPostern Buttress, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa, 783 m (2,569 ft) above Atlantic OceanCorridor Buttress / St Paul, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa, 768 m (2,520 ft) above Atlantic OceanJudas Peak, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa, 758 m (2,487 ft) above Atlantic OceanSeparation Buttress, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa, 757 m (2,484 ft) above Atlantic OceanSpring Buttress, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa, 746 m (2,448 ft) above Atlantic OceanWood Buttress, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa, 734 m (2,408 ft) above Atlantic OceanGuguy's Cliffs, Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Spain, 725 m (2,379 ft) above Atlantic OceanGrove Buttress, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa, 713 m (2,339 ft) above Atlantic OceanLa Mérica, La Gomera, Canary Islands, Spain, 711 m (2,333 ft) above Atlantic OceanVictoria Buttress, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa, 707 m (2,320 ft) above Atlantic OceanCairn Buttress, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa, 700 m (2,300 ft) above Atlantic OceanKleinkop Buttress, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa, 694 m (2,277 ft) above Atlantic OceanAndén Verde, Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Spain, 690 m (2,260 ft) above Atlantic OceanKarbonkelberg, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa, 653 m (2,142 ft) above Hout Bay, Atlantic OceanLa Peña's Cliffs, El Hierro, Canary Islands, Spain, 652 m (2,139 ft) above Atlantic OceanLos Gigantes, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain, 637 m (2,090 ft) above Atlantic OceanChapman's Peak, Western Cape, South Africa, 596 m (1,955 ft) above Atlantic OceanAnaga's Cliffs, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain, 592 m (1,942 ft) above Atlantic OceanRisco de Famara, Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Spain, 580 m (1,900 ft) above Atlantic OceanBuenavista's Cliffs, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain, 546 m (1,791 ft) above Atlantic OceanHigh Bluff, Prince Edward Island, South Africa, 490 m (1,610 ft) above McNish Bay, Atlantic OceanCape Hangklip, Western Cape, South Africa, 453.1 m (1,487 ft) above False Bay, Atlantic OceanPunta Gaviota's Cliff, La Palma, Canary Islands, Spain, 435 m (1,427 ft) above Atlantic OceanWatertunnel cliffs, Marion Island, Prince Edward Islands, South Africa, ca. 350 m (1,150 ft) above Atlantic OceanThe Sentinell, Western Cape, South Africa, 331 m (1,086 ft) above Hout Bay, Atlantic OceanCape Point, Western Cape, South Africa, 249 m (817 ft) above Atlantic Ocean
Above LandDrakensberg Amphitheatre, South Africa 1,200 m (3,900 ft) above base, 5 km (3.1 mi) long. The Tugela Falls, the world's second tallest waterfall, falls 948 m (3,110 ft) over the edge of the cliff face.Mount Meru, Tanzania Caldera Cliffs, 1,500 m (4,900 ft)Klein Winterhoek, Western Cape, South Africa, 1,220 m (4,000 ft) above base.Wall of Fire, Swartberg, Western Cape, South Africa 700 m (2,300 ft) cliff composed of vertically displaced quartziteTsaranoro, Madagascar, 700 m (2,300 ft) above baseKarambony, Madagascar, 380 m (1,250 ft) 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 600 m (2,000 ft) to 1,200 m (3,900 ft) in height for almost 250 km (160 mi). 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 Buttress, etc. The cliff faces of the Blyde River Canyon, technically still part of the Drakensberg, may be over 800 m (2,600 ft), with the main face of the Swadini Buttress approximately 1,000 m (3,300 ft) tall.
Above SeaMitre Peak, New Zealand, 1,683 m above Milford SoundThe Lion, New Zealand, 1,302 m above Milford Sound (drops from approx 1280m to sea level in a very short distance)The Elephant, New Zealand, has cliffs falling approx 1180m into Milford Sound, and a 900m drop in less than 300m horizontallyKalaupapa, Hawaii, 1,010 m above Pacific OceanGreat Australian BightZuytdorp Cliffs in Western AustraliaBall's Pyramid, a sea stack 562m high and only 200m across at its baseThe Twelve Apostles (Victoria). A series of sea stacks in Australia, ranging from approximately 50 to 70 meters above the Bass Strait
As habitat determinants 
Cliff landforms provide unique habitat niches to a variety of plants and animals, whose preferences and needs are suited by the vertical geometry of this landform type. For example, a number of birds have decided affinities for choosing cliff locations for nesting, often driven by the defensibility of these locations as well as absence of certain predators.