Niagara Falls

Assessment - School of rock

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Fun facts

  • The first tightrope walker to cross the Niagara Falls did so in 1859
  • Crossing the Niagara Falls is illegal as it is a border between two countries
  • A lot of people have tried crossing illegally yet most have drowned, died or injured
  • The american and Bridal Veil falls were once stopped so that the U.S.A could study the effects of erosion
  • People used to go over the falls with themselves stuck in a barrel
  • When the falls it at its peak rate of water more than 700,000 gallons of water per second pour over Niagara Falls.
  • Before the statue of liberty, The Falls at Niagara was the symbol for America

Background information

The niagara falls is a border between two countries (Canada And USA) and therefore meaning it is illegal to cross without permission. The niagara falls are made up of three main points, The American Falls (between Prospect Point and Luna Island), Bridal Veil Falls (between Luna Island and Goat Island) and Horseshoe Falls (between Goat Island and Table Rock) these three points collectively make up the Niagara falls. The largest pint is the horseshoe falls and is located on the canadian side. The 3 waterfalls combine to produce the highest flow rate of any waterfall on earth, The Niagara Falls is created because of some glacier activity that occurred about 10000 years ago. At the current rate of erosion due to the rapid water flow a lot of scientists believe that the Falls will be gone in around 50000 years time. And the falls is eroding by at least a foot every year

Niagara falls, the city

A lot of people probably wouldn't know that the Niagara Falls are two different cities one of the cities are in New York and the other one is in Canada. The Canadian side of the Niagara Falls is 54 m high and carries more then nine times the amount of water then the United States counterpart. The New York side of the falls includes the American Falls and a Bridalveil Falls i'm of the Canadian side contains the horseshoe or Canadian Falls.

Key terms

Erosion

The erosion process is a process which picks up and moves weathered fragments to different locations. For example: A mudslide flowing down a hill and rain washing away soil from a hill side are both two different forms of erosion


Deposition

Deposition is the dumping out of the smaller fragments (sediments) after they have been eroded. for example: layers of sediment forming at the bottom of the ocean and wind dropping sand from sand dunes are both forms of deposition


Weathering

The Weathering processes is a process that breaks down rocks into smaller fragments sometimes this is done chemically, physically, biologically or by waves. For example: Acid rain dissolving the surface of a rock and plant's roots that breaks rocks that are under the soil are both two different forms of erosion


Transportation

Coastal transportation occurs when Waves approach the coast at an angle because of the direction of the wind and which makes the waves carry material up the beach at an angle. The backwash then flows back to the sea in a straight line at 90°. This movement of material is called transportation

Location of Niagara falls

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Geology of Niagara falls

The falls only started becoming a fall when around 600 million years ago the site for the falls was at the centre of a large shallow sea than covered a large amount of north america, and under these waters was the Pre-Cambrian of the Canadian Shield-the bowl- shaped basement of america.

After this, for 100 million years, rain, wind and waves collectively broke up the rocks into powder which then got collected at the bottom of the sea and got layered up on top of each other which deposited soft sediments over the top of the harder Pre-Cambrian rock. And after this, the earth suddenly shock which pushed forward the Appalachian mountains. This also made rivers flow in different directions which carried mud westward to where the different rivers met and formed huge muddy deltas sprawling over 600 kilometres, which is now east of what is now called lake ontario to beyond the present shore of lake huron. The mud from that delta forms the distinctive purple-red shale called the Queenston formation and also the ledge-forming rocks which are in the Niagara Gorge.

Then 300 million years ago the inland sea drained away yet 50 million years after this the first reptiles came to light and started eroding the surface which formed the basins for Lakes Michigan and Huron, and later, Erie and Ontario. Then something wiped out all the life forms on earth and the human race slowly started to come to light and evolve, then a natural force covered most of Canada in a large sheet of ice which after a while created a glacier which was taller than the tallest skyscraper, and soon extended east and west from where people view the falls from right now. Twelve thousand years ago, the ice drew back far enough to create a river to the Hudson Valley which is near the city Rome in New York. And the water from the western end of the Ontario basin began to drain through this new outlet.

Then all the lakes started flowing into various different places but then eventually the ice sheet stopped growing because of a very small increase in the temperature. The edge of the glacier began to melt and the ice then the water began to surge through this newly opened channel and eventually drained into the sea.The glacier got a lot weaker then but the water had to go somewhere and most of it flowed off the sides of america/canada and into the ocean, Some of the water evaporated and the rest flowed to places to creating things like puddles and it also increased the volume of water in the Lakes. Soon after this the earth's crust began to spring back from the weight of all of this, but it didn't do it evenly as it was tipping to the south which changed the drainage patterns starting the flow of water through the Niagara River. Which is now the river in which the falls lead to.

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How Waterfalls are created

Rocks and boulders enter the plunge pool because of a collapsed notch. Abrasion and hydraulic action are now working together to erode the plunge pool (Make the pool deeper) and also to erode the notch (These can sometimes create potholes.)

Another form of erosion that is happening here is the splashing from the waterfall's stream that is hitting the plunge pool can erode rocks from the rock behind the tributary valley. This also causes deposition as some of the rocks end up further down the stream/ inside the plunge pool. These rocks then cause corrasion by rubbing against the bed

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Weathering and erosion

Before we started building hydro electric plants at the falls (Around 500 Years ago), all of the water used to flow over the falls and into a gorge. The water used erode the falls and also it would break up and wash away all of the smaller and loose rock at in the plunge pool making the plunge pool deeper. In the last 100 years since we started really using the water of the falls to make electricity we have started to divert some of the water away from the falls so that the water could go through the electric plants and then back into the lower part of the river. This means that when rock brakes away from the top of the falls and lands in the gorge it is not broken up as easily and builds up at the base of the falls. If you look the falls today and the falls from 50 years or more ago there is a major difference at the base of the falls.

The problem with this is that if it keeps going on like this we wont have the falls any more and as a replacement we have have created the Niagara Rapids since there is not enough water volume going over to carry the eroded rock away. This wont happen in the near future but after a couple hundred years this is probably what is going to happen.


Rapids are created When a very rapid river is flowing through an area of alternating bands of weaker rocks (broken off/ loose rock), the less resistant rocks are eroded more quickly. Which means that, the less resistant rocks are at a lower height compared to the more resistant rocks as they are higher. This results in the river falling in a series of steps along the bands of resistant rocks to form rapids.

Rapids formation

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The frozen falls

The picture that was taken (on the right) is a picture of the falls during the winter, though it looks like all the water is frozen there is actually still some water that is running under it so that doesn’t mean that its not a waterfall, at the site of the Niagara Falls, only some of the parts are frozen and mainly from the side of the american falls. When the falls is frozen, Ice cutters try prevent the falls from jamming up as the need as much water from the falls as they harness the power from hydroelectricity, Once, in March 1848, a large ice jam upstream stopped the flow of the river but Even then the Falls did not fully freeze. As there is simply too much water, and too much continuous movement from the water for the whole falls to fully freeze.

Future of niagara falls

We know that eventually the Niagara Falls would be eroded enough so that there won't be a falls but most people won't know what will happen afterwards. If Niagara falls keeps being eroded it will probably one day reach Lake Erie but the thing is that Niagara Falls won't still be the Niagara Falls a long time before it reaches Lake Erie. This is because the falls are created by a hard limestone Rock that is tilted to the south which basically means that it will get deeper and deeper her as you head south and eventually when it gets to Lake Erie (4 miles south) The rock will be below the gradient of the riverbed and once the erosion of the rock reaches that point in the falls the riverbed between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario will just be a long strip of Rapids.

Bibliography Made using Easybib

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  • "Rapids." Rapids. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Jan. 2016.
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By: Rohan Daswani