Geology - mountains and oceans
January 31, 2010 3:07 PM   Subscribe

Geology question: Does anyone know if there's a specific term for when mountains directly abut an ocean or sea? No beach, no shoreline, just the base of a mountain hitting up against an ocean. I feel as though I've heard of a term for this before but it's entirely possible that I dreamt it up.
posted by fso to Science & Nature (9 answers total)
Emergent shoreline?
posted by mollweide at 3:19 PM on January 31, 2010

Are thinking of fjords?
posted by tintexas at 3:28 PM on January 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

Bluff? like a cliff, but wussier.
posted by Throw away your common sense and get an afro! at 3:29 PM on January 31, 2010

I think that the words "cape", "head", "headland", and "promontory" are relevant. Tillamook Head is an example of what you're talking about.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 4:11 PM on January 31, 2010

Anchorage is like this. Not sure of the name of it. This thread is #3 on google, so I bet there is no term for it.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:55 PM on January 31, 2010

Headlands and bays are often found together on the same stretch of coastline. A bay is surrounded by land on three sides, whereas a headland is surrounded by water on three sides. Headlands are characterized by high, breaking waves, rocky shores, intense erosion, and steep sea cliffs.
posted by Rhaomi at 5:01 PM on January 31, 2010

hal_c_on, I can assure you that the white cliffs of Dover are not mountains. I assumed the OP was thinking of something like this; mountains, then sea.

OP, was the word you are thinking of Cordillera?
posted by Lebannen at 5:15 PM on January 31, 2010

Most any meeting of land and open sea will have some amount of shoreline or beach-type area, excepting newly arisen volcanic isles.

Not so. You should visit Fiordland in New Zealand. There are steep-sided glacial valleys there where near-vertical rock faces hundreds of meters high go straight down into the sea, and keep going for hundreds more.
posted by HiroProtagonist at 6:23 PM on January 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm not sure there is a specific name for that scenario, but thinking about how it would work goes like this: There is a cliff face abutting a water body where there is no deposition occuring at the base (or where the water surface meets the cliff face). The cliff would have to be steep enough so that eroded sediments would fall deep into the water or the current strong enough to carry them away laterally . But basically I think at *some* point down below there will be a depositional layer (beach/shelf) although for now it is under water.

Interesting question nonetheless.
posted by Big_B at 9:25 AM on February 1, 2010

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