Horseshoe Shaped Waterfall: Iguazu Falls
Located on the border of Argentina and Brazil runs the Iguaca River which feeds the Iguazu Falls. The falls is composed of about 300 waterfalls that plunge over the border of these two countries. In total the falls measure over 420 feet tall, and the tallest fall reaches 269 feet tall.
The unique wade horseshoe shape of the Iguazu falls is surrounded by a dense jungle of forests filled with bamboo and palm trees. The river meanders its way over the Parana Plateau before hitting the falls. Most of the waterfalls making up the Iguaza falls are cascade falls, so as they fall they catch the sunlight with the mist they send up creating rainbow prisms that dazzle the observer. The sound of this collection of falls is said to be heard from miles away!
The name of one of the falls may actually come from this thundering sound, this particular fall is called “Garganta del Diablo”, which translates to Devil’s Throat. This area is very tumultuous, water spray soars high over the cliff, and legend has it serves as the home of a river god. The name itself comes from the Guarani language, it translates to big water.
The myth for the creation of waterfalls come for the story that a god wanted to marry a beautiful woman named Naipu, but she had other plans, and fled in a canoe with her human lover to escape the god. He became enraged and literally sliced the river creating a waterfall, thus condemning the couple to fall eternally in the Iguazu.
Geologically, falls were created by faults in the earth crust that cause a part of the land to be higher than another part. The land is characterized by the volcanic rock that has dried in the mantles that layer over one another. Therefore some areas are more prone to erosion than others, meaning that the water will slowly erode the falls over time, move the fountain back inwards.
These falls are seasonal; meaning that during the months of November through March there is an impressive 450,000 cubic feet per second flowing over the falls, but after this period the amount of water flowing over them is considerably less.
A Spanish explorer by the name of Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca was the first European to see the falls in 1541. It was not until the creation of the Iguazu and Iguacu National Parks were created that people really began to see the falls and both parks were also designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites.