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Cliffs on the banks of the River Severn, near Bristol, England
Cliffs on the banks of the River Severn, near Bristol, England

In geography, a cliff is a significant vertical, or near vertical, rock exposure. Cliffs are categorized 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. Generally speaking, cliffs are formed by rock that is resistant to erosion and weathering. Sedimentary rocks most likely to form cliffs are sandstone, limestone, chalk, and dolomite. Igneous rocks, such as Granite and basalt, also often form cliffs.

A scarp is a type of cliff, formed by contraction .

Most cliffs have some form of talus 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 often obscures the talus.

Many cliffs also feature 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.

Some of the highest cliffs in the United States are to be found at Yosemite National Park in California, where some are three thousand feet (almost one thousand meters) high.

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