Mysterious Waterfalls Around the World

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Of all the natural wonders on earth, waterfalls are some of the greatest. Millions of gallons of water, falling down into gentle pools, both mesmerize and amaze. Along their banks, humans gather to watch, take photographs, and even make wedding proposals. The opportunity to interact with natural beauty, even indirectly, is something as a species, we cannot seem to pass up. Yet not all waterfalls are the same. Some leave unanswered questions, seem to defy the laws of physics, or even shock viewers. In this article, we’ll take a look at five of the most interesting waterfalls in the world.

waterfalls around the world

Blood Falls, Antarctica

At the bottom of the world, where the average temperature is one degree below zero, a constant stream of murky crimson water spills forth from the Taylor Glacier. Aptly named, Blood Falls is unique, mysterious, and quite unexpected in the frozen environment. From a distance, the waterfalls appear to be the embodiment of a violent trauma, startling red against the pristine white background of ice. Up until recently, it was a geological mystery, for many reasons.

The Taylor Glacier is located in the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica, a section of exposed, nearly barren land on the frozen continent. This unique feature of the area is the result of very low humidity, and the defensive ring of mountains which prevent free-flowing water from entering the area. It remains virtually snow and ice free, except along the edges, where glaciers reside. The cold-based Taylor Glacier is permanently frozen to the continent, at the edge of the sea.

Originally, the scientific community thought the coloring was caused by red algae based, but through arduous work scanning the core, discovered something completely unexpected. Deep below the surface, a network of rivers and lakes were identified, each having a high concentration of iron-containing brine. The brine provides both the coloration of the water, and some heat. But the abnormally high salt content of the subarctic lake is the real key. As saltwater freezes, it releases heat, enough to melt the surrounding freshwater ice of the glacier. The result is a bloody waterfall, beautiful in every way.

Sources: National Geographic, Wikipedia

waterfalls

Eternal Flame Falls, New York

In the town of Orchard Park, New York, deep in Chestnut Ridge Park, the Shale Creek cascades over ancient Hanover shale and limestone. The 400-million-year-old natural strata has layer after layer of organic material sandwiched between it, which is continuously eroding due to the moving water and pressure. One of the byproducts of this erosion is natural gas; and endless flow coming from several hidden vents along the waterway. When this gas flow is burning, the sight is worth the visit.

The shape of the stone directly below the falls is what creates the magick. A large fissure, inside what appears like a small cave underneath the flow, but protected from the water and wind by a sturdy rock overhang, allows the seeping gas to be ignited. The flame will burn for an extended period of time, as the flow of gas is steady. Unfortunately, it does get blown out, but park visitors relight it whenever possible. Additionally, there are several smaller gas vents, but none can compare to the aforementioned one, producing smaller and less sustainable flames.

This local waterfall doesn’t flow continuously, being reliant on meltwater and rain to provide the necessary volume to feed the waterfall. Springtime is the best time of the year to experience the magical view.

Source: Eternal Flame Falls Waterfall Guide, Wikipedia

waterfalls

Underwater Waterfall, Mauritius

Mauritius, a volcanic semi-tropical island in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar, is a growing destination for world travelers. The small island nation is rich in sugarcane production, fishing, and forestry, yet still developing industrially. Currently, tourism is one of the major sources of revenue for many inhabitants. Resorts are scattered along the stunning beaches, where snorkeling, and other outdoor activities are common, but the main draw of the island is found in the shadow of the famous mountain, Le Morne Brabant. It’s the underwater waterfall of Mauritius.

Located on the southwestern portion of a peninsula, the wonderous peacock blue lagoon provides a view that is second to none. Visitors seeking the full experience are flown over the natural wonder, as it is the only way the waterfall can be experienced. Staring down into the wonderfully clear water, they’ll see a semi-circular underwater waterfall, with water descending down to depths unknown. It’s unlike anything else found on the planet, and yet, despite seeing it firsthand, it’s just an illusion.

It isn’t water that’s falling into the depths, but silt and sand. These tiny reflective shards stay caught in a unique downward ocean current, which keeps them in perpetual motion. It’s a perfect optical illusion which combines the water clarity, an existing land shelf directly off the coast, and strong ocean currents, to create the image that water is flowing downward. The sand and silt are taken far below sight line, churning along the way, carried out to sea, then recirculated into the wash. Regardless of the reality, it is a wonderful sight.

Source: Culturetrip.com, one-million-places.com

waterfalls

Horizontal Falls, Australia

In northwest Australia, the intoxicating deep blue waters of Talbot Bay and the rich colorful stone of the surrounding area are an embodiment of earthly beauty. Nature never ceases to provide humanity with breathtaking but sometimes unexplainable sights. Perhaps it is why we continuously explore, seeking out features that often bring us to our knees. Talbot Bay hosts some of the areas most unique natural features, with its main attraction being the Horizontal Falls.

Although not a true waterfall, this wonder is as close as it comes. The secret lies in the geography, and the natural movement of water. Almost completely surrounded by McLarty Mountain range, two gorges, one eighty feet wide, and the other twenty feet wide, are separated by a two near-complete land bridges, each almost twenty feet high. Yet, over time, natural erosion has created a gap in the center of each bridge. This gap dips beneath sea level, allowing water to move through it freely.

Twice daily, the tidal shift forces millions of gallons of water through the twin gaps, creating a sight which can only be seen from overhead. The rushing waters, turbulent and quick, combine with oxygen, and push through the gap, creating whitewater. This whitewater spreads out in such a way that it appears to be ‘falling’ from the gap, thus fulfilling the image of a horizontal waterfall.

Source: Australian Government Fact Sheet: Talbot Bay, Australianorthwest.com

waterfalls

The Devil’s Kettle, Minnesota

It has been called a water portal by some, an enigma by others. But one thing is for certain, the Devil’s Kettle, in northern Minnesota, is indeed a sight to behold. Located on the Brule River in Judge C.R. Magney State Park, the main flow of water descends from Canada, downward over eight-hundred feet covering eight miles of elevation, forming several waterfalls along the way. At one point, the river drops a hard fifty feet and splits into two distinct flows. The first flow makes several drops then continues flowing downstream to a gentle pool. Yet the second flow seems to vanish completely.

The left side of the river drops into a giant rocky cavern, as if it simply disappeared, forever, into a churning kettle of unknown depth, leaving onlookers confused to where the volume of water goes. Over the years, many have made attempts to track the water flow, using various methods. Floating objects, logs, painted sticks, and even ping pong balls have been dropped into the hole. Yet none have been recovered. One brave individual tried entering the hold via rope and harness, but could not reach the bottom. Explanations from visitors were everything from a backward flowing river reaching Canada to a forgotten lava tube. The natural formation drew attention from hydrologists over the last decade, who think they have solved the years’ old mystery.

Measuring water flows high above the falls and far downstream, the volumes were consistent, indicating the water is being recaptured by the flow. Yet how and where remains a mystery. The explanation for other objects never being recovered is explained by fluid dynamics. Floating objects are lighter than water and remain in the out-of-view kettle of water, somewhere underground. As long as there is air space in the kettle, they are likely bouncing around on the surface, until either decayed or trapped. Experiments were planned using colored dye to trace the flow, yet no results have been published.

Sources: Atlasobscura, Minnesota Public Radio news

Conclusion

Like so many other mysterious places, the unique characteristics of these waterfalls can be explained to some degree, yet it doesn’t make them less attractive. In fact, in many cases visitors flock to them, just to see for themselves if the explanations fit the majesty.

Some other articles worth reading, if you are a lover of natural wonders.

Eight Dangerous Places You Should Never Visit

Devil’s Bridge – Rakotzbrücke

Poveglia Island – One of the World’s Most Evil Places

 

 

 

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