Why Can’t You Visit the World’s Tallest Waterfall?

You've probably heard that Venezuela boasts the world's highest waterfall, 3,212-foot (979-m) Angel Falls, but it's not technically the tallest. If you want to visit the real tallest waterfall ... you can't. That's because it's located underwater.

Although Venezuela's Angel Falls is the highest waterfall on land, it's less than one-third the height of an underwater waterfall known as the Denmark Strait cataract.
Although Venezuela's Angel Falls is the highest waterfall on land, it's less than one-third the height of an underwater waterfall known as the Denmark Strait cataract.

Deep beneath the Denmark Strait, in an area between Iceland and Greenland, lies a series of cataracts that begin dropping around 2,000 feet (610 m) below the surface. The overall drop of the so-called "Denmark Strait cataract" is roughly 11,500 feet (3,505 m), or more than three times the height of any waterfall on land

As odd as it sounds, waterfalls do exist beneath the waves. In some areas, they occur when warm water meets cold water and the cooler water drops quickly. In the case of the Denmark Strait cataract, there is an ocean shelf directly below that meeting point, so the falling water rushes over it just like a terrestrial waterfall.

It took scientific instruments to locate this dramatic underwater waterfall, so who knows what even deeper and larger waterfalls still await discovery.

The wonders of waterfalls:

  • There are 10 types of waterfalls, based on the shape of their descent. They range from multi-step falls to fan falls, which spread out as they drop.

  • Victoria Falls, on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe, drops with such force that it can reportedly be heard 25 miles (40 km) away.

  • In 1901, 63-year-old schoolteacher Annie Edson Taylor became the first person to survive the trip over Niagara Falls in a barrel.

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    • Although Venezuela's Angel Falls is the highest waterfall on land, it's less than one-third the height of an underwater waterfall known as the Denmark Strait cataract.
      Although Venezuela's Angel Falls is the highest waterfall on land, it's less than one-third the height of an underwater waterfall known as the Denmark Strait cataract.