Tag Archives: 12/12/12

12 Landscape Words You Probably Don’t Know

Sure, you probably know what an estuary is- also a bayou and a stalactite. Well, I hope that at least you’ve heard of them, but here’s a few that I’ve just discovered that I bet are new to you too!

  1. erg– Otherwise known as a sand sea. It comes from an Arabic word for any vast area covered with sand. The only erg in North America is the Gran Desierto of northern Sonora, which extends into southwestern Arizona and southeastern California.
  2. chine– A deep and narrow ravine cut into soft rock by a stream descending steeply to the sea. Now that’s pretty darn specific.
  3. guzzle– Used in New England to describe a natural spillway across a beach, affording a temporary connection between the sea and the marshes behind the beach.
  4. ait– or eyot, as it’s sometimes spelled, is a tiny island, especially one in a river, but also in a lake.
  5. freshet– A species of flood- a relatively sudden surge, brought on by heavy rainfall, rapid snowmelt, or the two together, that sends streams and small rivers over their banks.
  6. catstep– A narrow, back-tilted terrace or bench on a grassy slope, formed when a hillside slumps beneath it’s own weight- sometimes forming one on top of the other, close together- a staircase fit for a feline.
  7. cowbelly– Extremely fine particles of sediment along the banks of slow-moving creeks- silt as soft as a Holstein’s belly.
  8. bight– A long gradual bend or gentle indentation in the shoreline of an open coast or bay.
  9. drumlin– a Scottish term meaning a “narrow hill” or “long ridge.”
  10. hell– In 19th century America, hell was generic term for a rough or difficult stretch of country.
  11. pokelogan– In the northeastern U.S., what lumbermen called the stagnant backwaters of lakes and rivers.
  12. toe slope– what forms when soil and rock move downslope and come to rest.

I hope you’ve enjoyed your vocabulary lesson for the day. Happy 12/12/12!

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