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Ouzoud Waterfalls

A cache by Silvana Send Message to Owner Message this owner
Hidden : 12/08/2009
2 out of 5
2 out of 5

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In all their majesty and seeming calm, waterfalls might look like a permanent fixture on the side of a mountain -- as long as the river's always there, the waterfall will be there, too, right? As it turns out, waterfalls are actually formed very slowly over the course of several thousand years. You would hardly notice any changes in one during a lifetime.

Imagine a simple river flowing along bedrock, the harder rock that lays underneath loose earth like soil and sand. It's moving along pretty quickly and at a fairly steep incline. The bedrock over which the water is flowing has varying degrees of density and strength -- some layers are soft, while others are much harder. When water flows over a layer of hard rock, it erodes the softer rock beyond it. The bed of the river gets steeper as the water carries the softer rock downstream, and eventually the flow of water at this point becomes steep enough to be considered a waterfall.

Water continues to fall against a back wall, which also continues to wear away. Soon, the soft rock underneath the hard rock falls back, and a plunge pool is created where the water collects. Enough water moving over the hard rock will undercut it and break it away, and big pieces of rock will collapse and fall into the plunge pool, which makes it even bigger and deeper than before. The soft rock below the hard rock is receding so much that the hard rock becomes an overhang.

Although the waterfalls we see today will be around for a long time, they'll eventually recede and disappear. As hard rock is slowly eroded by the constant flow of water, it falls into the plunge pool and creates a large gorge. The waterfall is actually retreating backwards. This happens very slowly -- just as it takes thousands of years for a waterfall to form, it takes just as long for it to disintegrate. Niagara Falls, for instance, is retreating at the rate of 3.3 feet (one meter) per year.

This formation can lead to a wide variety of waterfall types.

You may have heard two other terms used to define a waterfall: cascade and cataract. Although they both describe waterfalls, they mean slightly different things. A cascade is the most common term and usually describes a waterfall with any kind of irregular surface underneath the water. It flows down in a fairly low volume, and several stages can make up one large waterfall. A cataract, on the other hand, is a waterfall with larger, more powerful volumes of water and is typically accompanied by rapids.

Examples of a cascade (left) and a cataract (right)

Now that we've explained the terminology, let's examine some different types of waterfalls. The most basic and recognizable type of waterfall is the plunge waterfall. This happens simply when a river spills out water over a ledge, and the water descends vertically without coming into contact with any of the rock on the way down -- it just crashes right into the plunge pool. This type of waterfall would take longer to retreat, since the hard rock over which the water is flowing is more resistant to erosion.

A block or sheet waterfall is formed from a wide river -- when the water spills over the edge, it looks like a big sheet, especially if the flow isn't broken by any stray rocks protruding from the back-wall. A block waterfall is usually wider than it is high. Similar in nature is the curtain waterfall, which is simply taller than it is wide, but still looks like a long sheet.

Horsetail waterfalls are in constant or semi-constant contact with rocks, which may erode faster than other types because of constant runoff.

Because the geography of the land is never limited, a waterfall can be one of these things or have any combination of them. For instance, a punchbowl waterfall might descend into a small plunge pool, but the plunge pool might quickly lead to another ledge where the water descends as a plunge waterfall. These waterfalls are generally called tiered. There are seemingly endless possibilities, which is probably the biggest reason people look for and are interested in new waterfalls.


Ouzoud Waterfalls d'Ouzoud (110 m high) are located in the Grand Atlas village of Tanaghmeilt, in the province of Azilal, 150 km north-east of Marrakech, in Morocco.
It is the most visited site of the region. In the vicinity, green valleys, mills, orchards and a superb circuit of the gorges of the El Abid River
(in Arabic, "Slaves' River" ) are found.
Ouzoud is the Berber word for "olive", referring to the nearby olive trees.
The bottom of the falls is accessible through a shaded path of olive trees. At the summit of the falls, there exist a dozen of old small mills that are still in use. In the twilight, one can observe whole troops of monkeys. One can also follow a narrow and difficult track leading to the road of Beni Mellal while descending the gorges from the "wadi el-Abid" by a canyon sometimes which one does not distinguish the bottom with nearly 600 meters.
Ouzoud rushes over 100 meters at the bottom of a ravine lined with green vineyards and calcareous concretions. Escape from the fog of the projection of water in the rocks creates a rainbow filled. The roar of the waterfalls, bubbling water at the bottom of the "pots giant hole by erosion, the exuberance of vegetation, all combine to make a romantic and fascinating spectacle.

Many local and national associations lead projects to protect and preserve the site.

To log this Earthcache:
Email me the answer to the following questions and once authorized write your log and
include a photo of you in front of the waterfall with your GPSr.

1- What is the Ouzoud waterfall type?
2- How many tiers are there?

Be aware:
Don't log without my authorization.
Don't forget to put your photo in the log.

The logs who don't fulfil those requirements will be deleted.


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