What are Waterfalls?

  Waterfalls are vertical flows of fast flowing water from a river or stream falling from great heights.


How are Waterfalls formed? Unequal Resistance of Rocks When a river flows across rocks of different resistance, the less resistant rock is eroded more rapidly than the resistant rock. This results in a change of gradient and causes the water to plunge. Overtime, a waterfall can develop.


Faulting When faulting occurs, there is a displacement of the rocks with one rock being uplifted and is higher than another. As a result, there is a difference in height between the 2 rocks. Thus, when a river flows through an area where faulting has occurred, the displacement along the fault will cause the river to plunge from a great height to form a waterfall. An example is the Victoria Falls on the Zambezi River in Africa.


Famous Waterfalls in the World


The Angel Falls are on the Carrao River in Venezuela, in South America. Angel Falls is the highest waterfall in the world. It is 979 metres tall.

In 1933 American aviator James Crawford Angel was flying overhead, looking for an ore bed. What he found instead was the world’s biggest waterfall. He returned in 1936 to land his plane on top of the waterfall, and it remained there for another 33 years until it was finally removed.

Angel Falls is well tucked away, and difficult to get to. You’ll need to utilise planes, boats and good old footpower, but it’s still an astonishing sight. The 979m uninterrupted drop is astounding, although viewing it can be tough. Weather conditions often mean that Angel Falls cannot be seen from the air.




The Victoria Falls are on the River Zambezi, on the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia. The Victoria Falls are 1700 metres wide. They drop 120 metres into a 30 metre wide gorge below the waterfall.

When Scottish explorer David Livingstone was making his way down the Zambezi River in 1855, he was taken aback when he came across this incredible view. "No one can imagine the beauty of the view from anything witnessed in England. It had never been seen before by European eyes; but scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight,” he said of the falls, and promptly named them after Queen Victoria.

Straddling the Zambia/ Zimbabwe border, Victoria Falls may not be the tallest in the world, but it’s probably the most spectacular and viewer-friendly. It’s certainly the widest – the drop stretching for over a mile – and the one with the biggest volume of water pouring over the top. Uniquely, the water rages over into a small chasm, which which means you can stand and face the falls, getting surprisingly close.

The Niagara Falls are between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, on the border between Canada and the USA. The falls are partly in Canada and partly in the USA and they are separated by Goat Island. The Niagara Falls can be seen from both the Canadian and the American side.

In 1901 a frankly lunatic old woman called Annie Edson Taylor got bored with her job as a schoolteacher, and decided that cheating death was a far more satisfying experience. Leaping into a barrel and setting off from the American side, she went over the Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side, making her the first person to try this particular stunt. She somehow survived.

The falls are a major attraction, although you’ll find a series of cascades rather than one big drop. All stunts involving taking them on are now strictly banned, and for good reason. The real attraction is not so much the height, but the width and the sheer amount of water thundering over them.