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Iguazu Falls Information

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A memorable experience and a spectacle of nature they are considered a wonder of the world. These falls originated 200 thousands years ago in the place that today is known as “the 3 frontiers” marked with stone pillars, where the Iguazú river and the Paraná river meet.

A geological fault produced on the Paraná riverbed made the outlet of the Iguazú river become an abrupt cascade approximately 80 meters high.

From that point, where the falls originate to where the Devil’s Throat is located today, covers 23 kilometers. This is due to the slow process of erosion, however the steep drop which defines them as waterfalls remains.


This original cascade, has become the most impressive falls of the group, The Devil’s Throat. Eighty meters high, it is located on the principal river course. Depending on the water level, you can see anywhere between 160 a 260 falls, that on average flow at a rate of 1500 cubic meters of water per second.


The violence of the falls produce a permanent fog, where sunbeams form multiple rainbows of incredible beauty.

IGUAZU ARGENTINA FALLS

Three Borders Milestone - Puerto Iguazú -  Argentina

 

IGUASSU FALLS ARGENTINA

Garganta del Diablo (Devil's Throat) - Parque Nacional Iguazú - Argentina

 

How the Iguassu Falls formed?


By Antonio Margalot. From “Geografía de Misiones”.

The regional geology is characterized by the presence of a series of flows. The term “flows” is the name used to designate volcanic rock that originally flowed in liquid state under the surface of a solid layer and then cooled becoming solid.

In the region many of these “flows” have been discovered, 11 distinct ones in Misiones alone. These flows have successively formed on top of each other resulting in successive “mantles.” (It is important to note that the term “mantle” is used incorrectly here. “Mantle” actually refers to something else, however it will help one not versed in the subject form a mental image).

These “mantles” have very similar physical and chemical properties, but can vary minutely in composition depending on the cooling process. Consequently, the erosive action of the falls upon these “mantles” varies as well and some are eroded faster than others. This is one of the factors responsible for the formation of Iguazú Falls as it is today.

Another factor is the presence of faults along the course of the river. Faults are when there is a fracture in in the earth's crust in which the rock on one side of the fracture has measurable movement in relation to the rock on the other side.

To visualize the phenomenon imagine a flat, horizontal plane. When a fault takes place, it creates a “step”, like a stair, that could be a few millimeters to some meters in size, depending on the intensity of the phenomenon that caused it. The river slope, in its early phase was quite pronounced and the water “fell” off of these these steps (faults), having a much more erosive effect than in the areas without fractures. As a consequence, a depression starts to form immediately after the fracture.

The Iguassu river runs, at least in some sections, over a flow very resistant to the erosive action of the water. The layer beneath it, however, is appreciably more vulnerable to that action. With the passing time the water erodes the lower layer. With its support removed, the upper layer starts to crumble progressively.

Huge blocks can be observed at the foot of some falls – especially from the Argentinean side of the Falls – those are the remains of the upper defile. The previous description explains that the water screen serves as a shelter for birds and amphibians.

As the erosion process “backwards” continues, over future millenniums the falls will keep moving, as they have been moving since time immemorial.

IGUAZúFALLS

Iguaçu Falls - Parque Nacional do Iguaçu - Brazil