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Types of Cliffs

Updated February 21, 2017

All around the world you can find stunning cliffs along coastlines and in mountainous terrain. If the cliffs you see are steep and erect, they are most likely made out of a hard rock like granite or basalt since those types of rocks can withstand nature's brutal weathering power. Sloping cliffs are usually formed from softer rocks such as chalk and clay, which are less resistant to erosion.

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Chalk Cliffs

The most prominent chalk cliffs are located near Dover, along the English Channel in the United Kingdom, but you can find such cliffs in Colorado and Western Europe. A variety of limestone, chalk is a sedimentary rock. The colouring of this finely grained rock ranges from white to grey. It is made up of shells from tiny marine creatures such as coccoliths, rhabdoliths and foraminifera and crumbles fairly easily. But when large deposits of this rock are abnormally hard and weathered by wind or water, steep cliffs will form. More malleable deposits of chalk yield gently sloping cliffs. Since chalk is considered a soft rock, it is not uncommon for you to find large quantities of rubble that has broken off from the face the cliff at the base.

Granite Cliffs

Granite cliffs exist throughout the United States and the world. A common igneous rock found in the Earth's crust, granite forms when magma cools deep underground, and it contains large amounts of the minerals feldspar and quartz. Granite cliffs form when deposits of this rock are exposed to erosion by wind and water. Granite is a hard rock and therefore you will not find piles of fallen rock at the bases of their cliffs as you do with cliffs made of softer stone.

Basalt Cliffs

Basalt is another igneous rock found near the Earth's crust but created when magma is cooled near the Earth's surface. Constructed mostly out of the minerals feldspar and pyroxene, basalt is a very hard, finely grained rock with a dark colouring. It forms steep cliffs when worn down by wind and water, and like granite, you are not likely to find piles of fallen rock at its base. Basalt cliffs can be found in Europe, North America, South America and Asia.

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About the Author

Kristen Marquette has been a professional writer since 2009 when FireLight Books published her debut novel, "The Vampiric Housewife." Since 2000 she has helped students hone their written and verbal skills in English as a tutor. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Michigan State University.

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