Water falling into the river from a ledge across the riverbed. Unlike river rapids, waterfalls are characterised by a sharp drop in the riverbed and a sheer drop. As the falling water destroys the ledge, powerful waterfalls continue to move up the river. For example, Niagara Falls moves 70-90 cm each year. Waterfalls are an obstacle to navigation, but they can still be used for economic activities - as a source of electrical power. Some waterfalls are actively visited by tourists.
Types of waterfalls
Classic. The water of a wide river or stream flows through a ledge, forming a relatively flat surface. Ideally, the waterfall is not divided into segments at the top. Visually, the waterfall is the same width and height.
Cataract. The layer of rock underneath the waterfall is constantly eroded, the water smoothes out the rocks it contains and makes a convenient path for itself. This is how waterfalls become quiet rivers. But sometimes, as the rocks erode, they break off and a new stream of water flows down to the point where they broke off, forming a waterfall. A new waterfall can form both downstream and upstream of the old one. In this way, waterfalls appear to follow the river, sometimes for several kilometres. Such waterfalls are called cataract-type waterfalls. This type of waterfall has many rapids on a large river. In most cases, cataract waterfalls, or as they are also called, streams, flow down the rapids and carry a very large volume of water with them.
Cascade. The name "cascade" comes from the Italian "la cascata, una cascata", which means "waterfall". It is also translated from the French "une cascade" - "falling rapidly". The cascade type of waterfall means that water falls from one surface to another, usually along the ledges of solid rock. A waterfall is formed when a stream flows from the edge of a cliff and falls freely to the base of the waterfall. Sometimes, when the water level is low, the water cannot fall freely, but presses against the cliff at the point where the waterfall is formed and runs down it. For example, Yosemite Falls in the USA - the total height of the fall is 727 m. This type of waterfall differs from cataract waterfalls not only by the volume of water. Cascades have a very small volume of water. Cascading waterfalls are made up of steps of small waterfalls that form a series of cascades.
Block. Slab. The geological formation influences the shape of the waterfall. It is practically a flat cliff of some width at the top, causing the water to fall vertically or almost vertically. The water of a wide river or stream flows through a ledge, forming a sheet of water. The shape and type of waterfall often depends on the ledge. Ideally, the waterfall is not divided into segments at the top and is visually wider than it is high. Examples of this type of waterfall are the Angel and Niagara waterfalls.
The veil. This type of waterfall is similar to block and classic waterfalls, the water flows through a ledge, but this type of waterfall is higher than it is wide, but does not resemble a ribbon.
Water slide. A gentle waterfall without a steep drop.
Breakaway (vertical). The overhanging ledge is another geological formation that affects the shape of the waterfall. It is a cliff that has been eroded by the water to create an overhang. This allows the water to fall freely from above without touching the surface of the ledge.
Segmented. This category includes waterfalls where the descending stream splits into two or more parallel streams. The splitting is usually caused by protruding parts of the rock at the point where the waterfall falls. Examples: Waipunga (English Waipunga Falls in New Zealand), Seven Sisters (English The Seven Sisters in Norway), Glanni (English Glanni in Iceland).
A ponytail. A waterfall can be attributed to this type if the water falls while remaining in contact with the surface most of the time. Examples: Nevada Falls, Svandalsfossen (Norway), Manawaiopuna Falls (Hawaii), Wallaman (Australia's highest waterfall) and Horsetail or "Firefall" in Yosemite.
Ribbon. Water flows down a narrow section that is much higher than the wider section. An example is Bridal Veil Falls in New Zealand.
Diving. Waterfalls that fall vertically, as in a jump, like an athlete, and usually do not touch the sheer surface of the rock as they fall. Examples: Mangawhero Falls in New Zealand, Steinsdalsfossen in Norway, Nobe Young Falls, Snoqualmie Falls in Washington.
Sliding. This type of waterfall describes a situation where the water slides over a single slab of rock, maintaining smooth, continuous contact with it. An example of this type of waterfall is Shannon Falls in Canada.
A crack (keyhole). This is a type of waterfall where the water breaks through a narrow area before falling. A keyhole is special because the rounded bottom of the slot resembles an old-fashioned keyhole. Sometimes the water is forcefully pushed out of the slot, creating a real water drop. An example is Plow (Spahats Creek Falls) in British Columbia.
Multilevel (tiered, stair, multistep). This category of waterfall describes waterfalls that have more than one vertical step or level. Individual waterfalls fall sequentially and in close proximity to each other, and usually look together. Any type of waterfall can be multi-level at the same time. Examples include Belmore and Mitchell (English Belmore Falls and Mitchell Falls in Australia), Gulfoss - "Golden Waterfall" (English Gullfoss) in Iceland and Sutherland (English Sutherland Falls) on the island of Yuzhny in New Zealand.
The veil. In this case, the water falls through the (usually quite large) ledges, creating a thin layer of water that barely covers the surface. The term "veil" in British Columbia (English: Bridal Veil Falls BC) refers to this type of waterfall.
Fan. The water falls over a relatively narrow crest, opening up and becoming wider than when it came down. An example of this type of waterfall is Hardy Falls on Okanagan Lake.
Crushed stone (scree). Water flows through a disorderly mixture of rock fragments on a slope, usually at the base of a cliff or steep slope. The boulder is often smaller than a softball and the debris larger than a softball. Some people do not consider such cases to be waterfalls if the slope is at least 30 degrees. For example, Lyle Creek Falls in Canada.
The biggest waterfalls
Angel is the highest waterfall in the world. It is located in the state of Bolivar (Venezuela).
The world's largest waterfall is Iguazu, on the border of Brazil and Argentina.
Niagara Falls in North America is the record-holder for the amount of water it carries.
Victoria Falls on the Zambezi River in Africa is the only waterfall in the world to be more than 100 metres high and over a kilometre wide.