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Cliff Lesson for Kids: Definition & Facts

Instructor: Suzanne Rose

Suzanne has taught all levels PK-graduate school and has a PhD in Instructional Systems Design. She currently teachers literacy courses to preservice and inservice teachers.

Of the many landforms on the Earth, cliffs are some of the most challenging. In this lesson, find out what a cliff is, how they're formed, and why they are a challenge for people who try to climb them.

Huge Rocks

You may have learned about many different kinds of landforms, or features on the surface of the Earth, that are made of rock. Mesas, plateaus, and mountains are just a few landforms made from rock. Cliffs are another one.

A cliff is a large mass of rock that is very tall. In addition, it must also be very steep. This means that instead of sloping gradually, like a hill might, a cliff is almost straight up and down. Another way to say this is that the face of the cliff is vertical.

Great Trango
trango

Cliffs can be found in many places on Earth. They're often found near the ocean or in the mountains. Some cliffs are also found in deep valleys and canyons. When you look at a cliff, you can almost always see bare rocks rather than lots of plants and trees.

Formed By Erosion and Glaciers

Most cliffs are formed by erosion. In erosion, wind and water wears away at rock. Waves, rain, and moving water in rivers or streams gradually wears it down. Cold weather can also cause weathering and erosion, when rocks freeze and thaw. This process causes them to break apart. These process cause soft rock to be worn away and the hard rock is left behind. Sometimes, the hard rock forms a cliff.

White Cliffs of Dover
dover

Some cliffs were created by glaciers, which are huge sheets of ice that can move. Now, most glaciers are located at the North and South Poles, but millions of years ago, they moved all over the Earth during the Ice Age. The glaciers cut through mountains and created many cliffs.

Believe it or not, some of the steepest cliffs on Earth are found in the ocean! These cliffs are called oceanic trenches.

Famous Cliffs

There are many well-known cliffs throughout the world. Let's learn about a few of them.

Rupal Flank

Rupal Flank is one face of the Nanga Parbat Mountain, which is found in the Himalaya Mountains in Pakistan. At over 15,000 feet tall, it's one of the tallest cliffs in the world. It's very steep, but its face isn't truly vertical; it does have some slope. Climbers who've tried to get to the top have nicknamed it ''killer mountain'' because it's so difficult to climb.

Great Trango

The Great Trango is a mountain that is also found in Pakistan. The eastern face of this mountain is almost 4,400 feet high and is made mostly of granite, which is a very hard rock.

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