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in Venezuela is the world's tallest waterfall at 979 m (3,212 ft).]]

A waterfall is a place where flowing water rapidly drops in elevation as it flows over a steep region or a cliff.



Typically, a river flows over a large step in the rocks that may have been formed by a fault line. As it increases its velocity at the edge of the waterfall, it plucks material from the riverbed. This causes the waterfall to carve deeper into the bed and to recede upstream. Often over time, the waterfall will recede back to form a canyon or gorge downstream as it recedes upstream, and it will carve deeper into the ridge above it.

Often, the rock stratum just below the more resistant shelf will be of a softer type, meaning that 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 shallower 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 normally form in a rocky area due to erosion.

Waterfalls can occur along the edge of a 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 ten broad classes based on the average volume of water present on the fall using a logarithmic scale. Class 10 waterfalls include Niagara Falls, Paulo Afonso 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, Lower Yellowstone Falls and Umphang Thee Lor Sue Waterfall (Class 6).[1]

Types of waterfalls

, Virginia, is an example of a cascade waterfall]]

  • Block: Water descends from a relatively wide stream or river.
  • Cascade: Water descends a series of rock steps.
  • Cataract: A large, powerful 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 and 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[2]

, near Supai, Arizona, is an example of a plunge waterfall]] , near Enniskerry, Wicklow County, Ireland, is an example of a horsetail waterfall]] , Canada and state of New York, USA]]

Significant waterfalls are listed alphabetically:

See also

Plitvice lakes, Croatia

External links


  1. ^ Richard H. Beisel Jr., International Waterfall Classification System, Outskirts Press, 2006 ISBN 1598003402
  2. ^ World Waterfall Database


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

Wikipedia has an article on:




Godafoss, a waterfall in Iceland


From Old English wætergefeall, cf. German Wasserfall, Dutch waterval, Old Norse vatnfall


Wikimedia Commons has related media at:




waterfall (plural waterfalls)

  1. A flow of water over the edge of a cliff.
  2. (figuratively) A waterfall-like outpouring of liquid, smoke, etc.
    • A waterfall of mist from the open freezer.


Derived terms

  • coastal waterfall
  • waterfall bong
  • waterfall effect
  • waterfall illusion
  • waterfall model
  • waterfall stomach


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.


to waterfall

Third person singular

Simple past

Past participle

Present participle

to waterfall (third-person singular simple present waterfalls, present participle waterfalling, simple past and past participle waterfalled)

  1. (intransitive) To fall like a waterfall.
    • 1994, Nora Roberts, Private Scandals, page 54:
      Rain ran off the bill of his fielder's cap and waterfalled in front of his face.
    • 1999, Jane Yolen, Bruce Coville, Armageddon Summer‎, page 79:
      Zondra, whose dirty-blond hair waterfalled above her head from a colorful tie, gave a snorting, horsey kind of laugh.
    • 2008, John Gardner, No Human Enemy‎, page 156:
      they turned into the drive of The Manor with its red-brick front and the wonderful cloak of Virginia creeper waterfalling down between the windows.

Derived terms

See also

External links

Simple English

File:Fulmer Falls Closeup
A picture of the Fulmer Falls waterfall in the Childs Recreation Area in the Pocono Mountains

A waterfall is where there is a sharp fall of water found on a river or stream. The water flows from higher land, then it falls down a big step of rock to lower land where it will continue on its journey. Waterfalls are usually made when a river is young.[1]

Many people choose them as sacred spots. The roar from the falling water is very loud and the sound makes beautiful music. Many people think they are one of the most beautiful things in nature.[1]

The highest waterfall in the world is Angel Falls in Venezuela where the water falls 979 m (3,212 ft).[2]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Carreck, Rosalind, ed (1982). The Family Encyclopedia of Natural History. The Hamlyn Publishing Group. pp. 246–248. ISBN 011202257.
  2. "Angel, Salto". Retrieved 2009-02-25. 
bjn:Banyu tajun

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