Facts about Niagara Falls

Facts about Niagara Falls

Ice Age History of the Niagara River

The last Ice Age left the Niagara River, as well as the whole Great Lakes Basin, of which the river is an integral component. 2 to 3 kilometers thick, the ice sheets covered southern Ontario in 18,000 years ago. The Great Lakes basins were eroded as they moved southward. As they melted northward, they released large amounts of meltwater into the basins. The water we drink is called "fossil" because less than one percent is renewable each year and the remainder is left over from the ice sheet melt.

About 12,500 years ago, the Niagara Peninsula was freed from ice. The ice began to retreat northward and its meltwaters started to flow down into Lake Erie, Niagara River, Lake Ontario, and the St. Lawrence River before finally reaching the sea. Originally, there were five spillways that ran from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario. These were eventually reduced to one, Queenston-Lewiston's original Niagara Falls. The steady erosion of the bedrock began at this point.

This process was stopped around 10,500 years ago by a combination of geological forces, including the alternating retreats and the re-advances and rebounding of land after being released from intense pressure (isostatic rebound). The northern Ontario route was used to redirect the glacial meltwaters, leaving out the southern route. Lake Erie was only half its size for the next 5,000 year. The Niagara River flow was reduced to 10% and the Niagara Falls, which had been greatly reduced, stalled in the Niagara Glen.

The meltwaters from southern Ontario were routed once more through the area around 5,500 years ago, restoring the Falls and river to their full power. The Falls then reached the Whirlpool.

It was a quick and violent encounter, and a geological moment that lasted only weeks or even days. The young Niagara River's Falls came to a stop at an old riverbed that was buried and sealed during the last Ice Age. The Falls carved out this gorge from the old riverbed and removed the glacial debris. The Falls were probably not actually falls, but huge rapids. It left behind a 90-degree curve in the river that we now know as the Whirlpool, and North America's largest series known as the Whirlpool rapids.

The Falls were then reestablished in the vicinity of the Whirlpool Rapids bridge upriver to our left and resumed carving its path through solid rock to reach its current location.

Niagara Falls is located on the border of Canada and the United States and can be found in both Ontario and New York. It attracts approximately 12 million tourists each year to its majestic beauty.

The Niagara River is only 12,000 years old. This is just a microsecond of geological time. The Niagara Escarpment, which was formed by erosion, is much older. The Niagara Escarpment was formed by erosion.

The river plunges across a cliff made of dolostone, shale and limestone. Niagara Falls is second in size to Victoria Falls, which can be found in southern Africa.

The four Upper Great Lakes, Huron, Superior, and Erie account for a fifth of the world's fresh water. All outflow flows into the Niagara River and eventually cascades above the Falls.

The water flows 15 miles through many gorges to reach the fifth Great Lake-Ontario from the bottom of the Falls. The land between the lakes is not flat, but it forms a dramatic drop about the same height as 20-story buildings. This is called the "Niagara Escarpment", and was covered in ice two billion years ago.

Over the years, erosion began to occur and created five distinct "gorges": the Lewiston Brange Gorge and Old Narrow Gorge as well as the Upper & Lower Great Gorges, Whirlpool Narrow Gorge and the Whirlpool Gorge.

The river was split in two about 500 years ago when it encountered an obstacle. Goat Island was named after John Stedman, whose goat herds died from the effects of freezing during the winter 1780. This was the original sediment from an abandoned Lake Tonawanda (an Indian title).

The American Falls were formed on the island's eastern side. The Horseshoe Falls are located on the western side of the river, where it angles at 90 degrees. Goat Island makes the water flow less strong on the American side, while the Horseshoe Falls doesn't have any obstructions to stop it. A third, narrower waterfall is also available. These falls were called Luna Falls, Iris Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls over the years.

Even though modern engineers have attempted to control the flow of water over the falls, man hasn't been able stop it completely. Most of today's water is sourced from underground channels or pipes that go to nearby hydroelectric power stations.

Water flows in an incredible volume. Water and mist from falling water create ice formations on the banks of the river and falls. Sometimes, this can lead to ice mounds as thick as 50 feet. The ice bridge is formed when the winter is long and cold enough. This ice bridge can stretch several miles down the river to reach the area called the lower rapids.

Visitors were permitted to view the Falls from below until 1912, but they could not walk on the ice bridge. The local newspaper reported on February 24, 1888 that at least 20,000 people had watched or tobogganed upon the ice. There were many shanties selling liquor, photos and curiosities. Three tourists lost their lives when the ice bridge collapsed on February 4, 1912.

You may also see a lot of mini-icebergs that flow down the Niagara River, which is formed from frozen Lake Erie. The annual installation of the "ice boom" on Lake Erie has significantly reduced the flow of ice. The ice-boom is an incredibly long, floating chain of steel floats that runs from Buffalo New York to Fort Erie Ontario. It measures 2 miles to 3.2 km in length. It is installed in December and taken out during March or April. The New York State Power Authority maintains it. The ice boom prevents ice from blocking the river, and more importantly, the water intakes of hydroelectric companies.

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