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Waterfalls are some of the most beautiful and impressive things in nature but, be careful, some of them might actually be man-made!
Here, we uncover five examples of man-made waterfalls from around the world and answer some common questions about waterfalls in general.
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What are the different types of waterfalls?
According to sites like worldatlas.com, there are actually up to 10 different classifications of a waterfall. These classifications tend to center around how water descends.
Natural waterfalls tend to fall into one of the following types:
- Punchbowl Waterfalls - These have a wide catch pool at the bottom, and they tend to be more tranquil than other more violent falls. The name is derived from the falls of the same name in Eagle Creek, Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Oregon.
- Plunge Waterfalls - As the name suggests, these type of waterfalls are characterized by a vertical flow of water that loses contact with exposed bedrock. Good examples are Blencoe Falls and Curtis Falls, in Australia.
- Multi-step Waterfalls - Again, as the name suggests, these are waterfalls that cascade over a series of steps or tiers. Examples include the Ouzoud Falls in Morocco and the Fukuroda Falls in Japan.
- Horsetail Waterfalls - "The Horsetail Waterfall keeps contact with the hard rock behind it as it surges down to its pool. This type is a more common waterfall and [is found] almost everywhere in many countries from all around the world," according to worldatlas.com.
- Frozen Waterfalls - These are, obviously, waterfalls that have become frozen for some time.
- Fan Waterfalls - These waterfalls are characterized by a fan-like shape as the water descends into its pool. Examples include Virgin Falls in Canada and Dip Falls in Australia.
- Chutes - These are pressurized waterfalls where large volumes of water are squeezed through a narrow passage. They tend to have very strong currents, and examples include Three Chites Galls in Yosemite
- Cataracts - More on these later.
- Cascades - "The Cascade Waterfall has a series of rock levels on which it falls. It is also one of the more beautiful and gentle types of falls," according to worldatlas.com. Examples include Murchison Falls in Uganda.
- Block Waterfalls - Examples include the Blue Nile Falls in Ethiopia. These waterfalls are some of the more powerful and thunderous. They flow down their waterline from a wide river or stream.
- Segmented - These waterfalls are formed from distinct, separate flows of water as it descends. Examples include Florence Falls in Australia.
- Tiered - Ostensibly similar to cascades, these waterfalls are characterized by a series of distinct steps or falls rather than rock levels. Examples include Yumbilla Falls in Peru and Ebor Falls in Australia.
What is a cataract waterfall?
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, a cataract waterfall is "a waterfall, especially one containing great volumes of water rushing over a precipice."
These types of waterfall occur when large amounts of fast-moving water, fall off a cliff. They tend to be characterized by their sheer impressive size and power.
Cataract waterfalls are one of the most awe-inspiring natural sights in the world and one of the most impressive types of a waterfall you'll ever see.
"Famous among the world's cataract waterfalls are the [Iguazu] Falls on the border of Brazil and Argentina. The waterfall is known for having one of the highest flow rates of any in the world. It even tops the famous Victoria Falls along the borders of Zambia and Zimbabwe.
In 2014, Iguazu Falls recorded an all-time high in its flow rate, carrying 46,300 cubic meters per second — 33 times the usual water flow rate — after torrential rains," notes mnn.com.
5 of the world's biggest man-made waterfalls
Here are five of the world's most impressive and biggest man-made waterfalls. This list is far from exhaustive and is in no particular order.
1. This Chinese skyscraper has a big one
One of the world's largest man-made waterfalls can actually be found on a skyscraper in China. Making a striking addition to the building's facade, this 108-meter "waterfall" cascades from the Liebian International Building's top levels.
The skyscraper is located in the Chinese city of Guiyang and the architects’ vision was to “create a feeling of water and greenery, even when you are surrounded by skyscrapers.”
The waterfall is rarely turned on as it is 'eye wateringly' (pun intended) expensive to run.
2. Cascata delle Marmore is pretty impressive
The Cascata delle Marmore is an ancient artificial waterfall with a total height of 165 meters, which, according to sites like Amusingplanet.com, makes it the tallest man-made waterfall in the world.
It appears to have been created by the Romans as a means of mitigating perceived health risks from wetlands formed by the source of the waterfall, the river Velino. "To remove that threat to the city of Rieti, in 271 BC, the Roman consul Manius Curius Dentatus ordered the construction of a canal (the Curiano Trench) to divert the stagnant waters into the natural cliff at Marmore," says Wikipedia.
The waterfall consists of three discrete sections with the topmost the tallest part at around 83 meters. It is located in the Italian region of Umbria, just under 8km from Terni.
3. Viktoriapark, Berlin is another impressive man-made waterfall
An urban park built in the Kreuzberg region of Berlin, Germany, Viktoriapark officially opened its doors to the public in 1894. One of its standout features is its impressive man-made waterfall.
Designed by Hermann Mächtig, the waterfalls are thought to have been inspired by natural examples around Germany. The waterfall ran for the first time in 1893 with the water pumps powered by gas motors.
The park and the waterfall's pumphouse were severely damaged during allied bombing in WW2 but were later repaired after the war.
4. The Jurong Bird Park has another big man-made waterfall
The Jurong Bird Park's Waterfall Aviary towers in Singapore house a large collection of exotic birds but also one of the largest man-made indoor waterfalls in the world. At 35 meters tall, about 13 stories, the waterfall is arguably as impressive as the wildlife there.
"A suspension bridge in the zone allows visitors to get a panoramic view of the surrounding landscape, and a hiking trail lets the visitors catch sight of some of the more reticent birds in action. Birds housed in the aviary include various species of African glossy starlings, turacos, and the White-necked rockfowl," according to Wikipedia.
5. Canonteign Falls in England is another impressive man-made waterfall
This 70-meter man-made waterfall was created in 1890 by diverting a stream over a natural cliff. It is officially one of the highest waterfalls in England and one of the world's tallest man-made ones too.
Called the Lady Exmouth Falls, they were named in honor of the 3rd Lady Exmouth and were built under her direction in the late 1800s.
"An impressive feat of engineering, the Lady Exmouth Falls were created by local miners under the direction of Lady Susan Exmouth after they had been made redundant following the closure of the estate's silver mines. The waterfalls are the highest man-made waterfalls in England, measuring some 70m; they provide one of the most breathtaking photographic and painting opportunities in Devon today," notes canonteighfalls.co.uk.
It is located in the historic tything of Canonteign in the Teign Valley of Dartmoor National Park near Chudleigh, South Devon, England.