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VegBank Data Dictionary: Field Details

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Field Landform
DB Field Name landform
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Data Type varchar (50)
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Definition A recognizable physical feature on the surface of the earth, often including consideration of the natural cause of its formation.
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Value Description Sorting
active slope (metastable slope) A mountain or hill slope that is responding to valley incision, and has detritus accumulated behind obstructions, indicating contemporary transport of slope alluvium. Slope gradients commonly exceed 45 percent. 2
alluvial cone The material washed down mountain and hill slopes by ephemeral streams and deposited at the mouth of gorges in the form of a moderately steep, conical mass descending equally in all directions from the point of issue. 6
alluvial fan A body of alluvium, with or without debris flow deposits, whose surface forms a segment of a cone that radiates downslope from the point where the stream emerges from a narrow valley onto a less sloping surface. Common longitudinal profiles are gently sloping and nearly linear. Source uplands range in relief and aerial extent from mountains and plateaus to gullied terrains on hill and piedmont slopes. 10
alluvial flat A nearly level, graded, alluvial surface. 15
alluvial plain A flood plain or a low-gradient delta. It may be modern or relict. 17
alluvial terrace   20
arroyo (wash) The flat-floored channel or an ephemeral stream, commonly with very steep to vertical banks cut in alluvium. 22
backshore terrace   25
backswamp (valley flat) Extensive marshy, depressed areas of flood plains between the natural levee borders of channel belts and valley sides or terraces. 27
backwater   30
badlands   35
bajada   40
bald   45
bank   50
bar An elongated landform generated by waves and currents and usually running parallel to the shore, composed predominantly of unconsolidated sand, gravel, cobbles, or stones with water on two sides. 55
barrier beach   60
barrier flat   65
barrier island(s)   70
barrier reef   75
basin A depressed area with no or limited surface outlet. Examples are closed depressions in a glacial till plain, lake basin, river basin, or fault-bordered intermontane structure such as the Bighorn Basin of Wyoming. 80
basin floor   85
bay   90
bayou   95
beach The unconsolidated material that covers a gently sloping zone, typically with a concave profile, extending landward from the low-water line to the place where there is a definite change in material or physiographic form (such as a cliff) or to the line of permanent vegetation; the relatively thick and temporary accumulation of loose water-borne material (usually well-sorted sand and pebbles, accompanied by mud, cobbles, boulders, and smoothed rock and shell fragment) that is in active transit along, or deposited on the shore zone between the limits of low water and high water. 100
beach ridge   105
bench   110
blowout   115
bluff (a) A high bank or bold headland, with a broad, precipitous, sometimes rounded cliff face overlooking a plain or body of water, especially on the outside of a stream meander; (b) any cliff with a steep, broad face. 117
bottomlands   120
braided channel or stream (flood-plain landforms) A channel or stream with multiple channels that interweave as a result of repeated bifurcation and convergence of flow around interchannel bars, resembling in plan the strands of a complex braid. Braiding is generally confined to broad, shallow streams of low sinuosity, high bedload, non-cohesive bank material, and step gradient. At a given bank-full discharge, braided streams have steeper slopes and shallower, broader, and less stable channel cross sections than meandering streams. 122
butte   125
caldera   130
canyon A long, deep, narrow, very steep-sided valley with high and precipitous walls in an area of high local relief. 135
carolina bay   140
channel   145
chenier   150
chenier plain   155
cirque Semicircular, concave, bowl-like area with steep face primarily resulting from erosive activity of a mountain glacier. 160
cirque floor   165
cirque headwall   170
cliff Any high, very steep to perpendicular or overhanging face of rock or earth; a precipice. 175
coast   180
coastal plain   185
col   190
collapse sinkhole   195
colluvial shoulder   200
colluvial slope   205
cove   210
crest (summit) The commonly linear top of a ridge, hill or mountain. 212
cuesta   215
debris slide   220
delta A body of alluvium, nearly flat and fan-shaped, deposited at or near the mouth of a river or stream where it enters a body of relatively quiet water, usually a sea or lake. 225
delta plain   230
depositional levee   235
depositional stream terrace   240
depression   245
desert pavement   250
dike   255
doline   260
dome A roughly symmetrical upfold, with bed dipping in all directions, more or less equally, from a point. A smoothly rounded landform or rock mass such as a rock-capped mountain summit, roughly resembling the dome of a building. 265
drainage   270
drainage channel (undifferentiated)   275
draw   280
drumlin A low, smooth, elongated oval hill, mound, or ridge of compact glacial till that may or may not have a core of bedrock or stratified glacial drift. The longer axis is parallel to the general direction of glacier flow. Drumlins are products of streamline (laminar) flow of glaciers, which molded the subglacial floor through a combination of erosion and deposition. 285
dune (undifferentiated) A mound, ridge, or hill of loose, windblown granular material (generally sand), either bare or covered with vegetation. 290
dune field   295
earth flow   300
earth hummock   305
eroded bench   310
eroding stream channel system   315
erosional stream terrace   320
escarpment (scarp) A relatively continuous and steep slope or cliff breaking the general continuity of more gently sloping land surfaces and produced by erosion or faulting. The term is more often applied to cliffs produced by differential erosion. 325
esker A long, narrow sinuous, steep-sided ridge composed of irregularly stratified sand and gravel that was deposited by a subsurface stream flowing between ice walls, or in an ice tunnel of a retreating glacier, and was left behind when the ice melted. 330
estuary   335
exogenous dome   340
fan piedmont   345
fault scarp   350
fault terrace   355
fissure   360
fissure vent   365
flat A general term for a level or nearly level surface or small area of land marked by little or no relief, eg. mud flat or valley flat. 367
flood plain (bottomland) The nearly level alluvial plain that borders a stream and is subject to inundation under flood-stage conditions unless protected artificially. It is usually a constructional landform built of sediment deposited during overflow and lateral migration of the stream. 370
fluvial   375
foothills   380
foredune   385
frost creep slope   390
frost mound   395
frost scar   400
gap   405
glaciated uplands   410
glacier   415
gorge (a) A narrow, deep valley with nearly vertical rocky walls, enclosed by mountains, smaller than a canyon, and more steep-sided than a ravine; especially a restricted, steep-walled part of a canyon. (b) A narrow defile or passage between hills or mountains. 420
graben   425
ground moraine   430
gulch   435
hanging valley   440
headland   445
highland   450
hills (foothills) A natural elevation of the land surface, rising as much as 300 m above the surrounding lowlands, usually of restricted summit area (relative to a tableland) and having a well-defined outline; hill slopes generally exceed 15%. The distinction between a hill and a mountain is often dependent on local usage. 455
hillslope bedrock outcrop   460
hogback   465
hoodoo   470
hummock A rounded or conical mound of knoll, hillock, or other small elevation. Also, a slight rise of ground above a level surface. 475
inlet   480
inselberg   485
interdune flat   490
interfluve   495
island   500
kame A moundlike hill of ice-contact glacial drift, composed chiefly of stratified sand and gravel. 505
kame moraine   510
kame terrace   515
karst   520
karst tower   525
karst window   530
kegel karst   535
kettle A steep-sided bowl-shaped depression without surface drainage. It is in glacial drift deposits and believed to have formed by the melting of a large, detached block of stagnant ice buried in the glacial drift. 540
kettled outwash plain   545
knob (a) A rounded eminence, as a knoll, hillock, or small hill or mountain; especially a prominent or isolated hill with steep sides, commonly found in the southern United States. (b) A peak or other projection from the top of a hill or mountain. Also a boulder or group of boulders or an area of resistant rocks protruding from the side of a hill or mountain. 550
knoll   555
lagoon   560
lake   565
lake bed   570
lake plain   575
lake terrace   580
lateral moraine   585
lateral scarp (undifferentiated)   590
lava flow (undifferentiated)   595
ledge   600
levee (floodwall, earth dike) An artificial or natural embankment built along the margin of a watercourse or an arm of the sea, to protect land from inundation or to confine streamflow to its channel. 605
loess deposit (undifferentiated)   610
longshore bar   615
lowland   620
marine terrace (undifferentiated)   625
meander belt   630
meander scar   635
mesa   640
mid slope   645
mima mound   650
monadnock   655
moraine (undifferentiated) A drift topography characterized by chaotic mounds and pits, generally randomly oriented, developed in superglacial drift by collapse and flow as the underlying stagnant ice melted. Slopes may be steep and unstable and there will be used and unused stream coursed and lake depressions interspersed with the morainic ridges. Consequently, there will be rapid or abrupt changes between materials of differing lithology. 660
mound   665
mountain valley   670
mountain(s) (hill) A natural elevation of the land surface, rising more than 300 m above surrounding lowlands, usually of restricted summit area (relative to a plateau), and generally having steep sides (greater than 25 percent slope) with or without considerable bare-rock surface. A mountain can occur as a single, isolated mass or in a group forming a chain or range. Mountains are primarily formed by deep-seated earth movements and/or volcanic action and secondarily by differential erosion. 675
mountain-valley fan   680
mud flat   685
noseslope   690
outwash fan   695
outwash plain (glacial outwash, kettles) An extensive lowland area of coarse textured, glaciofluvial material. An outwash plain is commonly smooth; where pitted, due to melt-out of incorporated ice masses, it is generally low in relief. 700
outwash terrace   705
oxbow (meander belt, oxbow lake) A closely looping stream meander having an extreme curvature such that only a neck of land is left between the two parts of the stream. A term used in New England for the land enclosed, or partly enclosed, within an oxbow. 710
patterned ground (undifferentiated)   715
peat dome   720
periglacial boulderfield   725
piedmont   730
pimple mounds   735
pingo A large frost mound; especially a relatively large conical mound of soil-covered ice (commonly 30 to 50 m high and up to 400 m in diameter) raised in part by hydrostatic pressure within and below the permafrost of Arctic regions, and of more than 1 year’s duration. 740
pinnacle   745
plain (lowland, plateau) An extensive lowland area that ranges from level to gently sloping or undulating. A plain has few or no prominent hills or valleys, and usually occurs at low elevation with reference to surrounding areas (local relief generally less than 100m, although some, such as the Great Plains of the United States, are as much as 1000 to 1800 m above sea level.) Where dissected, remnants of a plain can form the local uplands. 750
plateau (mesa, plain) An extensive upland mass with a relatively flat summit area that is considerably elevated (more than 100m) above adjacent lowlands, and is separated from them on one or more sides by escarpments. A comparatively large part of a plateau surface is near summit level. 755
playa   760
polygon (high-centered)   765
polygon (low-centered)   770
pothole   775
raised beach   780
raised estuary   785
raised mudflat   790
raised tidal flat   795
ravine (gulch, draw) A small stream channel; narrow, steep-sided, and commonly V-shaped in cross section; and larger than a gully. 800
relict coastline   805
ridge A long, narrow elevation of the land surface, usually sharp rested with steep sides and forming an extended upland between valleys. The term is used in areas of both hill and mountain relief. 810
ridge and valley   815
ridgetop bedrock outcrop   820
rift valley   825
rim   830
riverbed   835
rock fall avalanche   840
saddle A low point on a ridge or crestline, generally a divide (pass, col) between the heads of streams flowing in opposite directions. 845
sag pond   850
sandhills   855
scarp   860
scarp slope   865
scour   870
scoured basin   875
sea cliff   880
seep   885
shoal   890
shoreline   895
shoulder (hill slope) The geomorphic component that form the uppermost inclined surface at the top of a hillslope. It comprises the transition zone from backslope to summit of an upland. The surface is dominantly convex in profile and erosional in origin. 897
sinkhole (undifferentiated) (doline) A closed depression formed either by solution of the surficial bedrock (e.g. limestone, gypsum, salt) or by collapse of underlying caves. Complexes of sinkholes in carbonate-rock terraces are the main components of karst topography. 900
slide   905
slope   910
slough   915
slump and topple prone slope   920
slump pond   925
soil creep slope   930
solution sinkhole   935
spit (a) A small point or low tongue or narrow embankment of land, commonly consisting of sand or gravel deposited by longshore drifting and having one end attached to the mainland and the other terminating in open water, usually the sea; a fingerlike extension of the beach. (b) A relatively long, narrow shoal or reef extending from the shore into a body of water. 940
splay A small alluvial fan or other outspread deposit formed where an overloaded stream breaks through a levee and deposits its material (often coarse-grained) on the flood plain. 945
stone circle   950
stone stripe   955
stream terrace (undifferentiated)   960
streambed   965
subjacent karst collapse sinkhole   970
subsidence sinkhole   975
swale (a) A slight depression, sometimes swampy, in the midst of generally level land. (b) A shallow depression in an undulating ground moraine due to uneven glacial deposition. (c) A long, narrow, generally shallow, trough-like depression between two beach ridges, and aligned roughly parallel to the coastline. 980
talus   985
tarn   990
terrace A step-like surface, bordering a valley floor or shoreline, that represent the former position of an alluvial plain, or lake or sea shore. The term is usually applied to both the relatively flat summit surface (platform, tread), cut or built by stream or wave action, and the steeper descending slope (scarp, riser), graded to a lower base level of erosion. 992
tidal flat   995
tidal gut   1000
till plain   1005
toe slope   1010
toe zone (undifferentiated)   1015
transverse dune   1020
trench   1025
trough   1030
valley (basin) An elongate, relatively large, externally drained depression of the earth's surface that is primarily developed by stream erosion. 1035
valley floor   1040
wave-built terrace   1045
wave-cut platform   1050