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The Canadian Falls (The Horseshoe Falls), the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls collectively form what is known as "The Niagara Falls". Both the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls are on the United States side of the border. The Canadian Falls are the largest of the 3 waterfalls. The Niagara Falls are considered one of the world's greatest natural wonders (just shy of the top 7 natural wonders of the world). The Niagara Falls are located on the Niagara River in Ontario, Canada.
- 1. The Niagara Falls are formed when the water from Lake Erie and Lake Ontario flow through the Niagara Escarpment and fall onto the escarpment's lower gorge. The falls began forming over two million years ago as water began flowing into Ontario at a faster rate than it could erode its way out and began carving a path to the sea. Five thousand years ago, Native Americans came upon these falls as they hunted bison and other game in the area; they named them Ongniaahra (meaning “the strait”). They have changed over time, but the current falls over 8,000 years old.
- 2. The Horseshoe Falls drop about 187 feet (57 m), and about one-third of the water in Niagara River flows over them, making them the world's largest volume waterfall.
- 3. In 1987, an earthquake caused a portion of the American Falls to separate from Goat Island and retreat several feet into the Niagara Gorge. It has been estimated that it would take an earthquake as strong as 7.
- 4. The falls are the most important tourist attraction in the Niagara area, as well as a vital source of power and hydroelectricity. They also support important industrial activities, which include the production of cement.
- 5. Over 25 million people visit Niagara Falls each year. The total economic impact of tourism at Niagara Falls is about $3 billion a year and directly or indirectly supports over 50,000 jobs. As for all tourism throughout Ontario, about $32 billion is generated each year and it supports over 300,000 jobs. Ontario is Canada's leading tourist destination since 2003; Niagara ranks among the top destinations within Ontario.
- 6. The Niagara River starts at Niagara Glen and ends where it joins Lake Ontario, a distance of about 41 miles (66 km). From the place that the river flows out of Lake Erie to its mouth it has a length of 120 miles (193 km) while the Niagara Gorge is about 4 miles long. The total length from one end to the other is actually 105 km and falls about 167 m.
- 7. How much water flows over Niagara Falls each second? Niagara Falls has an average flow rate of about 100,000 cuft/s (3,200 m3/s). However, this flow rate is not constant. During the dry season between May and October the rate is as low as 30,000 cuft/s (910 m3) but during the wet season it can exceed 250,000 cuft/s (8 000 m3). Since Lake Erie water is less dense than water at Lake Ontario because of its shallower depth and a high dissolved solids content, it flows more easily.
- 8. What is the flow rate like in the spring? During the spring runoff period between March and May, water flow can be up to four times that of normal periods. During these months each second: Water flows over Niagara Falls at about 100,000 cubic feet per second (3,000 m 3 /s) and at times can exceed 250,000 ft/s (8,000 m 3 /s).