What is a waterfall?

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Imagine a river winding and flowing along its path. But what if there were a break in the path and the river’s water suddenly fell many feet below? Then you’d have a waterfall! A waterfall occurs when a river is interrupted and its water travels downward. The force and steep path of this water create a beautiful natural feature!

Waterfalls are formed in a variety of ways. Sometimes rushing water breaks down and washes away the rock over which it flows. For example, water flowing over a hillside may wear away more and more of the underlying rock over time. The slope of the hillside may get steeper and steeper, especially when a soft bed of rock follows a hard bed of rock. Over time, the soft rock is worn away faster than the hard rock, creating a drop! 

Other waterfalls are formed when glaciers move through valleys, wearing away the rock and leaving steep edges edges over which water may fall! Moving plates under the Earth’s crust and the shape of the land underneath the water also play a role in the creation of waterfalls. No matter how the water falls, these natural wonders are powerfully interesting!

by   (whyzz writer)
  • Further information

    A waterfall that involves large amounts of water and a very steep drop is called a cataract. A waterfall that is less steep and tall is called a cascade.  Sometimes cascades involve several smaller falls rather than one main fall!
  • Exploration

    Can you make your own waterfall? With the help of a grown-up, fill a pitcher with water and set a stepstool (or a low, lightweight table) outside. Now begin pouring the water over the surface of the table or stool. Again with the help of a grown-up, try holding the pitcher at different angles and distances from the surface until you get the best flow of water over the edge. The shape, curve and texture of the table will influence the water’s path. If the table or stool is lightweight, an adult may also try safely tilting it to influence the flow of the water. What happens when the water runs off the edge of the surface? Voila“”a waterfall!
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