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The largest confirmed waterfall in Earth's history (bbc.com)
76 points by Tomte on June 11, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 38 comments

I don't know if this was the largest. Both the mediterranean and the Black sea, each a lot larger than any water body in America.

Anyway, both of those were dry at one point and the water of the oceans broke through. The Black sea went from low lying valley (akin to the dead sea valley, but much bigger) to open sea in less than a week.

I don't know, but that even seems to me must have been pretty spectacular (to watch from a SAFE distance).

That was exactly what I thought about when I read the title. It may have been a very temporary waterfall, but it must have been enormous.

So does the Black Sea waterfall not count because it was so temporary? Was it still somehow smaller than the one from the article? Or has its size not yet been verified?

The whole enormous-quick-waterfall hypothesis is somewhat speculative; not proven, but not conclusively disproven either.

I think there's a definition of waterfall that includes a longevity requirement; i.e. as there are some "waterfalls" which only exist shortly after rainfall, then dry up again, and thus can't be called waterfalls. I'll try to dig up a reference for that half-recalled fact...

A very wordy, non-scientific defintion here: http://www.world-of-waterfalls.com/featured-articles-waterfa...

This flood carried the Willamette meteorite, a 15 ton space rock, embedded in a chunk of a glacier, from Montana to just south of Portland. It is the largest meteorite found in North America.


The article doesn't really emphasize that glacial Lake Missoula filled and drained multiple times over the years. In the Missoula valley, there are multiple historical beach areas on the mountain sides as a horizontal topo feature. Each one is at a slightly different height.

I have a book in storage on this (helpfully titled "Glacial Lake Missoula") -- The craziest statistic that I can remember is that the calculated outflow through one of the canyon choke points was a mile wide, hundreds of feet deep, and travelled at 60mph. There are scars from passing icebergs on the walls.

Randall Carlson along with Graham Hancock speak of this in quite some detail on Joe Rogans podcast. They speculate that some sort of meteor or comet shower melted the icecaps 12k years ago and caused a flood of biblical proportions. It is a fascinating podcast.


We've been having glacial periods fairly regularly for the last couple of million years - not sure why you need to introduce a meteor shower to explain the icecap melting:


Science in general is very split on the Missoula flood theory and from my reading about the event it seems that this is mainly because Geology has moved on from Catastrophism to Uniformitarianism which doesn't really explain the event very well. Bretz who spent most of his career studying the region and originally introduced the theory of the Missoula flood suggested that there was only a single, catastrophic flood, but he eventually ended up settling for a possibility of multiple floods just to get his theory accepted after fighting with the Geological community for years and eventually moving away on to other work. He eventually received many high-ranking accolades for his work, but to his last day he was convinced that the flooding was a single event of very rapid melting of the glacial ice. Carlson sides with Bretz and suggests that there is compelling evidence that the flood itself lasted days not years. Honestly, this entire debate paints a very bad picture of modern Geology disregarding evidence because it challenges the status quo.

This is really neat, but I'm slightly miffed that they didn't include an image of the giant ripple marks. I watched a PBS Documentary (Nova?) about this area that went into great detail. I might be mixing some things up...

More info for fellow Geo-Nerds:




Niagara Falls is at something like half its potential power. There are talks to open the floodgates so to speak once a year and let Niagara Falls be really gigantic (bigger than Iguaza) one day a year.

This immediately reminded me of the Lake Peigneur disaster.


> It was twice as high and three times as wide as Niagara Falls

Having seen both, I'm not sure that doubling and tripling Niagara would make it larger than Iguazu Falls...probably taller, but Iguazu is really, really wide.

Same in height when compared to the Angel Falls which are 980m high[1] vs 51m for the Niagara Falls.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angel_Falls

You’re right. The Niagara Falls are 790m wide, Iguazu falls are 2.7km wide.

A simulation of the Lake Missoula flooding and ice-dam collapse:


Eastern Washington's Scablands are pretty impressive relics.

There's a pretty interesting natural rock dam[1] that holds Garibaldi Lake[2] in. It's just a loose pile of rocks and has the potential of collapse[3] which would release the entire lake down the valley.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Barrier

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garibaldi_Lake

[3] "The area below and adjacent to the Barrier, a geological feature upholding Garibaldi Lake is considered hazardous. Although imminent danger is unlikely, special regulations are in effect to make you aware of the potential danger and to minimize the risk to life and property in the event of a landslide. Posted signs identify the Civil Defence Zone. Do not camp, stop or linger while traveling through the zone. Camping or remaining overnight at or near the Garibaldi Lake parking lot is prohibited. Developed campgrounds are located nearby at Alice Lake and Nairn Falls Provincial Parks." - http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/garibaldi/

"We're sorry but this site is not accessible from the UK as it is part of our international service and is not funded by the licence fee. It is run commercially by BBC Worldwide, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the BBC, the profits made from it go back to BBC programme-makers to help fund great new BBC programmes. You can find out more about BBC Worldwide and its digital activities at www.bbcworldwide.com."


For those in the UK, here's an article from Ars Technica, on what I guess is the subject of the BBC article (based on other comments):


I also get this, is it because they have adverts on the page and the BBC is somehow not allowed to show adverts in the UK?

I wonder what actually prevents them just showing the page without adverts to UK readers, rather than showing the placeholder; I'm supposing that its for political reasons as in, they wont show it, rather than cant

It's political. Note that BBC Good Food is in exactly the same scenario, legally. Yet it's fully accessible in the UK.

As far as I know, BBC Good Food doesn't belong to the BBC, it just licenses the name.

"This website is made by BBC Worldwide.

BBC Worldwide is a commercial company that is owned by the BBC (and just the BBC). No money from the licence fee was used to create this page. The profits we make from it go back to BBC programme-makers to help fund great new BBC programmes."


C'mon man, it's right there on the front page...

Can someone fill in the gap for me here?

1. Website is run on a commercial basis.

2. ???

3. Therefore it is not accessible from the UK.

BBC can't show advertisements or do other commercial things in the UK. For doing that abroad, they have a subsidy that can operate commercially, as long as it doesn't do so in the UK (which runs the international website, with ads on it). Presumably it's also supposed to not compete with the BBC, and the site is thus not offered in the UK?

There's no article content in there, does the BBC website do something on purpose to stop it being archived?

There's no text in the HTML itself. It seems like it's all being pulled from a server using JS as the page is loaded. I can't read it in Lynx or Firefox with NoScript.

That's pretty odd for a static article.

As I can't read the article, I'm going to guess:

Is it when the Atlantic broke through to create the Med?

"Dry Falls (pictured), the site of a former waterfall, is a horseshoe-shaped cliff that’s twice as high and three times as wide as Niagara Falls, making it the largest confirmed waterfall in the planet’s history. Today, the site is preserved as Sun Lakes-Dry Falls State Park, where visitors can see the impact of these relatively recent geologic events through overlooks, canyon trails and interpretative displays."

It's in Washington state in the USA. The key point is that it's the largest confirmed waterfall, the creation of the Med might not have created a waterfall and instead been more of a massive surprise river.

Works for me, from the US. Just using uMatrix and uBlock Origin.

You don't need those to access it from the US.


>a wholly-owned subsidiary of the BBC

I will translate the paragraph you quoted: "We don't want to show this content to people in the UK."

That is literally exactly its meaning. (I didn't investigate if it is true but that is the meaning of the paragraph you quoted, as written.)


EDIT: this got a downvote, so reread my comment more carefully.

since this got downvoted, what forces their hand?

The BBC charter and the various laws that the BBC have to operate under.


> The BBC may carry out commercial activities but only through subsidiary companies. There is a risk that without appropriate safeguards the BBC’s public funding could be used to subsidise or benefit these subsidiaries by offering services on favourable terms. This could distort competition by giving its commercial subsidiaries an unfair competitive advantage.

Thank you for finding that, that is interesting. You will have to spell out the connection (as they might see it) with a UK audience being able to consume the content their subsidiary companies produce, though, as I can't quite make the connection.

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