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Rocks in the waters of the Isles of Scilly, SW England

A cliff is a rock formation created by erosion and rising relatively steeply from its surroundings . A distinction can be made between inland cliffs, which are mostly limited to mountainous regions, where they weather out of mountain slopes or ridges, and cliffs on the seashore, which are usually in front of a rocky cliff . Particularly high coastal cliffs are also called surf pillars. Because they are relatively small and can therefore easily be overlooked in poor visibility and / or high seas, and because they are also often associated with rock reefs due to their formation , they pose a high potential hazard for shipping. This is why coastal cliffs are recorded on nautical maps .

Rocky cliffs are not to be confused with tectonic cliffs , which are defined by the fact that they consist of isolated allochthonous geological units. Tectonic cliffs are usually larger than cliffs in a purely geomorphological sense and can build up entire mountain ranges .


The Eschbacher cliffs near Usingen-Eschbach
The finger cliff in Namibia

The waters of the Isles of Scilly off the Land's End headland at the far end of the Cornwall peninsula (south west England ) are dotted with cliffs and rocky reefs. Until 1750, these islands were shown on the nautical charts about ten nautical miles too far north. In addition to fog and currents , this circumstance caused the small archipelago to have abundant flotsam from ships that ran aground on the cliffs. Today there is a museum for figureheads and a cemetery where more unknown dead than residents are buried. One of the loneliest lighthouses in the world has stood on the westernmost cliff of the Isles of Scilly, Bishop Rock , since 1858 .

In and on the German low mountain ranges there are numerous rock formations known as "cliffs", which are mostly located in the outcrop of a particularly weather-resistant rock unit. If it is a long-lasting, steep layer of sedimentary rock , real cliff chains can arise, as in the case of the Dörenther cliffs in the Teutoburg Forest . The Teufelsmauer in the northern Harz foreland represents a similar phenomenon . There are also several such rock formations in the outcrop of the Taunus quartzites (southern Rhenish Slate Mountains ). The Eschbacher Klippen are also located in the southern Rhenish Slate Mountains , but they are based on a quartz dike instead of a layer of sedimentary rock. Such rock formations are often designated as protected or worthy of protection geotopes in Germany .

Striking and well-known cliffs outside of Germany are or were, among others, the Fingerklippe and the Mukurob in Namibia . The finger cliff between Outjo and Khorixas is a tourist attraction . The Mukurob in southern Namibia collapsed on December 7, 1988.

Web links

Wiktionary: Klippe  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
  • Cliffs in the spectrum online encyclopedia of geosciences

Individual evidence

  1. Namibia Travel Map . Kunth-Verlag, Munich 2017, ISBN 978-3-95504-578-4 .