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Flood record shattered at Iguacu Falls

Posted by bryanswan | June 13th, 2014

The upper basin of the Iguacu River in Brazil has seen prolonged heavy rain recently, which has caused the Iguacu River to swell to previously unheard of proportions.  Iguacu Falls, which lies on the border between Brazil and Argentina, is currently in a spate that has absolutely shattered its previous record levels.  In 1992 the river reached a flow of 36,000 cubic meters – or 1.27 million cubic feet – of water flowing over the falls every second.  Today the river is said to have peaked out at 46,800 cubic meters – or 1.65 million cubic feet – of water every second.  That’s approximately 3 times as much water as the average flow of the Mississippi River, and 5 times as much as the St. Lawrence River below Lake Ontario.  In fact, that’s more water every second than the average volume of any other river on earth except for the Amazon!  That’s so much water that the lower tier of the 269 foot tall falls was almost entirely submerged from the water backing up in the gorge.

See for yourself:

Michigan Waterfalls

Posted by | February 15th, 2014

Michigan is not a state that one may immediately assume to be a destination for waterfall hunting. This is certainly understandable given that the majority of the state is really, really flat – the state’s high point is a paltry 1,709 feet above sea level, and lowest point is the surface of Lake Erie at 571 feet above sea level. Considering the majority of the population of Michigan lives on the lower peninsula, its rather understandable that not many of its residence may be aware of the cornucopia of waterfalls which can be found in the state.

All but two of Michigan’s 272 recorded waterfalls occur on its upper peninsula – though technically there are three entries in the database for the lower peninsula, but one of them is not considered to be a legitimate waterfall. Despite the generally flat terrain, the geology of Michigan’s upper peninsula is very conducive to the formation of waterfalls along its many streams and rivers. Though there are only about 16 waterfalls in the state known to drop more than 50 feet (three of which are over 100 feet tall), there are literally dozen and dozens of smaller falls which are quite worthy of note. To accompany this situation however, there are also many features which have been granted the title of “Falls” over the years which in reality are not even remotely significant enough to be legitimately considered waterfalls.

Hotbed areas to target when planning on hunting down many of Michigan’s waterfalls include the Porcupine Mountains – especially the Black River and Presque Isle River corridors – the Keweenaw Peninsula, and the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore area around Munising, though in general pretty much anywhere within 5 miles of the shore of Lake Superior is a good place to look for waterfalls given the extremely prolific sandstone formations which can be found in the area.

New Hampshire Waterfalls

Posted by | January 5th, 2014

So how about we start off the new year with a whole bunch of new waterfalls? To accompany the data set for Vermont which we posted about a month ago, we have recently completed uploading our data set for the state of New Hampshire, which currently details information on 364 waterfalls in The Granite State. Like most of the New England States, New Hampshire isn’t known for its waterfalls specifically, however there are many well known waterfalls scattered throughout the state that certainly throw their weight around as individual tourist destinations, in the White Mountains especially. Though generally the waterfalls in New Hampshire are on par with the rest of New England in terms of size, the geology of the state allows for a handful of surprisingly tall waterfalls to occur

Comparing the geology to neighboring Vermont presents an interesting contrast. While the mountains of Vermont are by and large made of metamorphic rocks, New Hampshire is dominated by Granitic forms of bedrock (the official state moniker does sort of hint to this). Not only are the mountains generally taller than in other neighboring states – Mount Washington itself being the tallest mountain in New England – but this added height has promoted a handful of waterfalls of substantial heights (albeit small volumes) to form, at least a handful of which stretch well over 500 feet tall.

The majority of New Hampshires waterfalls however are much smaller and more conducive to intimate encounters. Several of the most well known falls in the White Mountains have long romanticized histories relating to their unique and often fascinating geologic formations – The Basin, Avalanche Falls and The Flume Gorge, Diana’s Baths, and Sabbaday Falls to name a few. While the majority of the falls occur in and around the White Mountains, the southern half of the state is still fairly well represented itself, though with falls of much smaller stature. Several features named as waterfalls can be found along the larger rivers in this region, though many of these features are more frequently relevant as historic mill sites than they are legitimate waterfalls. But regardless of where you search, options abound.

We have full survey reports on quite a few waterfalls in New Hampshire, and have begin posting them immediately. It will take a while before they are all up, so expect to see quite a few waterfalls marked as Cataloged without detailed information for the time being. We hope to have much of this data filled in over the next two months, as time permits.

Alaska Waterfalls

Posted by | December 27th, 2013

Though Alaska may not necessarily be well known for its waterfalls, one usually associates towering mountains, huge glaciers and sheer-walled fjords with the state, so one would naturally be forgiven for assuming that Alaska harbors lots and lots of waterfalls. It may surprise you then to learn Alaska may not in fact be quite so endowed with waterfalls as may be assumed. Oh there are many waterfalls throughout the state for sure, but how many there truly are is quite difficult to discern. Thus far, we have recorded information on 314 waterfalls throughout Alaska.

The big issues preventing extensive surveying of the state are a) the remoteness and lack of developed infrastructure, and b) the fact that the population is so small and for all practical purposes inaccessible to the population of the lower 48 states without flying in to Anchorage first (which then adds further travel limitations such as rental car range and lodging). Most of the waterfalls surveyed in Alaska occur either in the southeast coastal area along the border with British Columbia and Yukon, or within the mountainous regions along the south coast around Anchorage, the Kenai Peninsula and the beginning of the Aleutian Peninsula.

Many of Alaska’s waterfalls occur in the glaciated fjords in the coastal south and southeast parts of the state, from Ketchikan all the way up to Anchorage. As the glaciation is extensive, the valleys are carved quite deeply and in turn the waterfalls can be considerable in size. The catch to this situation is that because of the extensive glacial cover, there are few roads in the area, so access by Boat is necessary in many cases, and those which can be accessed by car or on foot will require first flying or boating in to an isolated town such as Juneau or Ketchican, and then procuring wheeled transportation to travel further. The roads leading to the towns of Seward, Whitter, Valdez and Haines all provide access to many waterfalls from the mainland, but long travel times are required due to the limited road network.

The vast majority of the interior of the state is a huge black hole. In fact, out of the 314 waterfalls we currently have listed in the database in Alaska, only three of them occur north of Fairbanks. This is not to say there are no waterfalls further north, but rather that the area is so remote and difficult to access that it is hard to know what may actually be out there. Now that said, a good chunk of this part of the state is occupied by the Yukon River valley and is pretty darn flat – in fact while flowing over 1,200 miles between the Canadian border and the Bering Sea, the Yukon River only drops 850 feet in elevation. Sure there are mountains around the river, but this is a pretty good gauge for the overall terrain in the northern part of the state. Further north lies the Brooks Range, the most likely area for waterfalls to occur in the northern part of Alaska, but like much of the rest of the state there is no developed infrastructure so there is no easy way to explore the area.

As a footnote, in addition to this data about Alaska, we published information on the only two natural waterfalls known to occur within the state or Rhode Island several weeks ago. With these two states published, and considering that the State of Delaware has no natural waterfalls, we now have data published for half of the United States. In the coming weeks we should be wrapping up the editing work on our data for New Hampshire and Maine and hope to have those two posted by the end of January. Once those two are out of the way, there will only be 5-6 other states with considerable numbers of waterfalls to collate, so we’re hopeful that the rest of the country can be finished by the summer – or at the very latest the end of 2014.

Waterfalls in Vermont and Wyoming

Posted by | December 1st, 2013

We’ve been slowly getting more and more data together over the last couple of months, and we’ve finally been able to post our first updates in nearly 5 months. First up, we pushed our data set for the state of Vermont a couple weeks ago. We currently have 355 waterfalls inventoried in Vermont, and actually have extensive information for quite a few of them (you’ll notice a considerable number of them are marked as Cataloged). We’ll be slowly adding in the more detailed information and photographs over the winter months – about 20 of them area already complete. Secondly, as of this past Thursday we were able to finally publish data for Wyoming as well. We’d been working on this one for at least half of the year, and we’ve now got 420 waterfalls listed in Wyoming to show for it.

We’re going to try to get two more US State data sets published by the end of the year – and very possibly both will be states with significant quantities of waterfalls. If all goes well with the next set of data, we should be able to have complete data for half of the United States published and online by early next year (right now we’re at 23 of 50 states, including Delaware which has no waterfalls), and hopefully we’ll get over 30 done and published by the end of the winter months.

Stay tuned for more as always.