Escarpment: Definition, Formation and Examples

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Photo of Escarpment: Definition and Example

Escarpment definition

An escarpment is a steep slope or long cliff that is formed as an effect of faulting or erosion and separates two relatively level areas of differing elevations. Usually escarpment is used interchangeably with scarp. However, some sources differentiate the two terms, where escarpment refers to the margin between two landforms, while scarp is synonymous with a cliff or steep slope. The surface of the steep slope is called a scarp face. An escarpment is also refers to as an area of the Earth whereelevationchanges suddenly. However, when viewed from a coastal plain, an escarpment resembles a mountain range, hence; it can be found in almost all the continents of the world.

How is an escarpment formed?

An escarpment is usually formed by faulting and erosion. Erosion wears away soft rock surfaces throughwindor running water. One side of an escarpment may be eroded more than the other side. The result of this unequal erosion is atransition zonefrom one type ofsedimentary rockto another.

An escarpment is also created by faulting, faulting is movement of the Earths top layer, orcrust, along a crack called afault. The same process often results in earthquakes. Faulting creates escarpments as it moves pieces of the Earth around

Example of escarpment In Nigeria

An example of escarpment in Africa is that of Nigeria located specifically in Kanke Local government in Plateau State.

Plateau Escarpment (Dankang Plain)

Ecarpment shared by Lost Wollongong
Ecarpment shared by Lost Wollongong


Plateau escarpment: Plateau escarpment is the land that joins the highlands; it extends up to Wase, Langtang, Bauchi and up to Benue State. The rocks formed around here are igneous rocks which have been stratified due to high mica content that was formed years ago (that is to say, they form the older granite and have undergone excessive weathering process), inselbergs and other rock masses are found close to these land forms. The temperature here is hotter compare to that of Jos Plateau because there is difference in elevation of the hills and the altitude difference is 0.60C at every 100m height and the highest elevation is 433m above sea level. Due tothese slopes, most of the streams usually flood their banks during the rainy seasons, At the foot of the escarpment, far away from the foot of the Plateau is where you notice the poorest soilswhich were exposed due to over cultivation and weathering process.Other features found here arehillocks, hills, gorges, ravines and rivulets, whose water mostly during the rainy seasons are drained into bigger streams and rivers. The Taman drains the western and southern areas in to the Shimankar, which in turn empties into the River Benue. The Gyangyang together with Nyinang drain the northern and eastern areas of Yil Ngas, into Wase, which then flows into River Benue. Vegetation in this area is more luxurious and it can be tropical forests in the south and savanna in the north, because it receives more rainfall compare to some places. The geology formation is between the basements of sedimentary rock; hence, farmers who are leaving around this area practice zero tillage farming system.

Niagara Escarpment: Another example of escarpment is the Niagara Escarpment, which runs in an arc from the U.S. state of New York, through the Canadianprovinceof Ontario, and down to the U.S. state of Illinois. All along the Niagara Escarpment, hard, resistant rock sat on top of soft rock. As wind and water eroded the soft rock underneath, the hard rock tumbled down, creating cliffs and escarpments. The most dramatic example of this unequal erosion is the waterfalls at Niagara Falls.

Picture of the Niagara Escarpment shared by David Galbraith
Picture of the Niagara Escarpment shared by David Galbraith


Elgeyo Escarpment: Other example is the Elgeyo Escarpment, part of Kenyas Great Rift Valley, was formed by faulting millions of years ago. The faulting that resulted in the Elgeyo Escarpment turned seabed into nearly vertical cliffs.

Picture of the Elgeyo Escarpment and rift valley near Kabarnet shared by riz Kibet Diof
Picture of the Elgeyo Escarpment and rift valley near Kabarnet shared by riz Kibet Diof