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Geography topics for you to learn and enjoy
Geography topics for you to learn and enjoy

Definition of a waterfall.

A waterfall is a place where water flows over a vertical drop in the course of a stream or river. 
beautiful waterfall | facts about waterfalls


Synonyms for waterfall.

Other words for watefall include:    cascade, shower, torrent, white water, chute, falls, rapids, 

Types of waterfall.

  • Ledge waterfall: Water descends vertically over a vertical cliff, maintaining partial contact with the bedrock
  • Horsetail: Descending water maintains good contact with bedrock most of the time.
    • Slide: Water glides down maintaining continuous contact.
    • Ribbon: Water descends over a long narrow strip.
a beautiful waterfall | geography waterfall

Staircase Waterfalls

  • Cascade: Water descends a series of rock steps.
  • Tiered/Multi-step/Staircase: A series of waterfalls one after another of roughly the same size each with its own sunken plunge pool.
  • Cataract: A large, powerful waterfall.
  • Segmented: Distinctly separate flows of water form as it descends.
  • Frozen: Any waterfall which has some element of ice or snow.
  • Moulin: A moulin is a waterfall in a glacier
waterfall image
formation of a waterfall | how do waterfalls form | how waterfalls are formed

How are waterfalls formed - video

A video demonstrating how waterfalls are formed. 

Rare footage of waterfalls on Uluru in Australia after heavy rains. 

waterfalls for kids

Angel Falls,


Tallest waterfalls in the World

       Name               Height          Location             Country
1    Angel Falls,                979 m,       Canaima Nat. Park,    Venezuela
2   Tugela Falls,              948 m,         KwaZulu-Natal,       South Africa
3   Tres Hermanas Falls,  914 m,    Otishi Nat. Park,            Peru
4   Olo'upena Falls,      900 m,                   Hawaii,            United States
5   Yumbilla Falls,          869 m,               Amazonas,                  Peru
6   Vinnufossen,             860 m,      Møre og Romsdal,        Norway
7    Balåifossen,              850 m,              Hordaland,              Norway
8   Pu'uka'oku Falls,      840 m,                  Hawaii,           United States
9   James Bruce Falls,   840 m,     British Columbia,          Canada
10  Browne Falls,            836 m,           South Island,       New Zealand

Biggest waterfalls in the World

                         Mean annual     Tallest       Widest
       Name             flow rate [1]     drop         point         River                 Country
1   Boyoma Falls             17,000,                   5m,          1,372m,         Lualaba,          D.R. of the Congo
2    Guaíra Falls [2],          13,300,                 40m,                                  Parana,         Paraguay and Brazil
3  Khone Phapheng Falls,  11,610,          21m,                                  Mekong,                         Laos
4     Celilo Falls [2],             5415,                     7m,           3,219m,     Columbia,              United States
5   Niagara Falls,              2407,                     51m,          1,203m,        Niagara,           Canada and USA
6    Iguazú Falls,               1746,                     82m,          2,700m,       Iguazú,        Argentina and Brazil
7    Victoria Falls,             1088,                   108m,         1,708m,     Zambezi,   Zimbabwe and Zambia
[1]  mean flow rate measured in cubic metres per second
[2] Now submerged when dam built

Case study - Iguazú Falls

one of the largest waterfalls in the world

Iguazú Falls

Location                           Argentina: Misiones Province.
                                               Brazil: Paraná State.
Coordinates                    25°41′12″S      54°26′41″W
Waterfall Type              Cataract
Total height                   60–82 metres 
Number of drops         275
Longest drop                82 metres 
Total width                    2.7 kilometres 
Water course                 Iguazu River
Average flow rate      1,756 m3/s 

Case study - Niagara falls

most powerful waterfall in North America

Niagara Falls

Location                           Canada:  Ontario,
                                                United States:  New York
Coordinates                    43.0799°N   79.0747°W
Waterfall Type               Cataract
Total height                     51 metres  (167 ft)
Number of drops           3
Longest drop                  30 metres (98 ft)
Total width                      2,160 metres  (7,086 ft)
Water course                   Niagara River
Average flow rate       2,400 m3/s  (85,000 cu ft/s)

Waterfall pictures

frozen falls

Frozen waterfall - any waterfall with 

an element of ice or snow in it.

frozen falls

Frozen waterfall from behind

types of waterfall - cascade



Water descends a series of rock steps

types of waterfall - cascade

Plunge waterfall. Where the water loses contact with the rock.

Here we look at facts and information all about waterfalls. We start with a detailed waterfall definition and a detailed description of a waterfall. We go on to look at how waterfalls are formed. We list the largest waterfalls in the world and look at waterfall animations where we can see the different features of waterfalls that created as they form. Here you can learn all about waterfalls. 


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