AskDefine | Define waterfalls

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  1. Plural of waterfall

Extensive Definition

Typically, a river flows over a large step in the rocks which may have been formed by a fault line. Over a period of years, the edges of this shelf will gradually break away and the waterfall will steadily retreat upstream, creating a gorge of recession. Often, the rock stratum just below the more resistant shelf will be of a softer type, meaning undercutting, due to splashback, will occur here to form a shallow cave-like formation known as a rock shelter or plunge pool under and behind the waterfall. Eventually, the outcropping, more resistant cap rock will collapse under pressure to add blocks of rock to the base of the waterfall. These blocks of rock are then broken down into smaller boulders by attrition as they collide with each other, and they also erode the base of the waterfall by abrasion, creating a deep plunge pool or gorge.
Streams become wider and more shallow just above waterfalls due to flowing over the rock shelf, and there is usually a deep pool just below the waterfall because of the kinetic energy of the water hitting the bottom.
Waterfalls can occur along the edge of glacial trough, whereby a stream or river flowing into a glacier continues to flow into a valley after the glacier has receded or melted. The large waterfalls in Yosemite Valley are examples of this phenomenon. The rivers are flowing from hanging valleys.

Classifying Waterfalls

Waterfalls are grouped into 10 broad classes based on the average volume of water present on the fall using a logarithmic scale. Class 10 waterfalls include Niagara Falls, Paulo Alfonso Falls and Khone Falls. Classes of other well known waterfalls include; Victoria Falls and Kaieteur Falls (Class 9); Rhine Falls, Gullfoss and Sutherland Falls (Class 8); Angel Falls and Dettifoss (Class 7); Yosemite Falls and Lower Yellowstone Falls (Class 6).

Types of waterfalls

  • Block: Water descends from a relatively wide stream or river.
  • Cascade: Water descends a series of rock steps.
  • Cataract: A large waterfall.
  • Fan: Water spreads horizontally as it descends while remaining in contact with bedrock.
  • Horsetail: Descending water maintains some contact with bedrock.
  • Plunge: Water descends vertically, losing contact with the bedrock surface.
  • Punchbowl: Water descends in a constricted form, then spreads out in a wider pool.
  • Segmented: Distinctly separate flows of water form as it descends.
  • Tiered:Water drops in a series of distinct steps or falls.
  • Multi-step: A series of waterfalls one after another of roughly the same size each with its own sunken plunge pool.

Examples of large waterfalls

main List of waterfalls
Significant waterfalls include these alphabetically:

See also


waterfalls in Arabic: شلال
waterfalls in Min Nan: Chúi-chhiâng
waterfalls in Bulgarian: Водопад
waterfalls in Catalan: Cascada
waterfalls in Czech: Vodopád
waterfalls in Welsh: Rhaeadr
waterfalls in Danish: Vandfald
waterfalls in German: Wasserfall
waterfalls in Estonian: Juga
waterfalls in Modern Greek (1453-): Καταρράκτης
waterfalls in Spanish: Cascada
waterfalls in Esperanto: Akvofalo
waterfalls in Basque: Ur-jauzi
waterfalls in Persian: آبشار
waterfalls in French: Chute d'eau
waterfalls in Scottish Gaelic: Eas
waterfalls in Galician: Fervenza
waterfalls in Gujarati: ધોધ
waterfalls in Korean: 폭포
waterfalls in Hindi: झरना
waterfalls in Indonesian: Air terjun
waterfalls in Inuktitut: ᖁᖅᓗᕐᓂᖅ/quqlurniq
waterfalls in Icelandic: Foss
waterfalls in Italian: Cascata
waterfalls in Hebrew: מפל מים
waterfalls in Latin: Aqua cadens
waterfalls in Lithuanian: Krioklys
waterfalls in Dutch: Waterval
waterfalls in Japanese: 滝
waterfalls in Norwegian: Foss
waterfalls in Norwegian Nynorsk: Foss
waterfalls in Polish: Wodospad
waterfalls in Portuguese: Queda de água
waterfalls in Romanian: Cascadă
waterfalls in Quechua: Phaqcha
waterfalls in Russian: Водопад
waterfalls in Simple English: Waterfall
waterfalls in Slovak: Vodopád
waterfalls in Slovenian: Slap
waterfalls in Serbian: Водопад
waterfalls in Sundanese: Curug
waterfalls in Finnish: Vesiputous
waterfalls in Swedish: Vattenfall
waterfalls in Tamil: அருவி
waterfalls in Thai: น้ำตก
waterfalls in Vietnamese: Thác
waterfalls in Cherokee: ᎠᎹᏍᎧᎦᎯ
waterfalls in Turkish: Şelâle
waterfalls in Ukrainian: Водоспад
waterfalls in Urdu: آبشار
waterfalls in Chinese: 瀑布
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