The Scala dei Turchi i (Italian: "Stair of the Turks") is a rocky cliff on the coast of Realmonte in Italy:

enter image description here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scala_dei_Turchi#/media/File:Scala_dei_Turchi_panorama.jpg

How is the shape of a staircase formed?

Could it be some sort of stretching process?

  • $\begingroup$ What makes you think there is stretching going on? It looks to me like a very trivial case of erosion of dipping beds. $\endgroup$
    – bon
    Apr 30, 2018 at 21:05

1 Answer 1


There's no need to invoke stretching here. This is just a simple case of dipping sedimentary beds which have been eroded by the sea.

The stepped geometry may be caused by small variations in the hardness of the beds such that the harder beds weather out more prominently and create the steps.

Alternatively, at least some of the larger steps may be wave cut terraces formed during periods of stable sea level. In the background on the left of the picture you can see two large terraces separated by a ramp which look very much like wave cut terraces. Such terraces are well known from central Greece, where they have been uplifted by activity on faults and I would speculate that a similar process has occurred here.

  • $\begingroup$ You're suggesting there are really that many separate abrupt shifts in hardness to create each different level of "step"? $\endgroup$ May 1, 2018 at 9:20
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @JeopardyTempest Changes in hardness would likely be caused by changes in cementation so I don't think it's implausible. $\endgroup$
    – bon
    May 1, 2018 at 12:44
  • $\begingroup$ Also the one's in the background look very much like terraces. I'm not suggesting they are caused by changes in hardness, only some of the smaller ones in the foreground. $\endgroup$
    – bon
    May 1, 2018 at 14:45

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