Migrating Falls and Rectangular Joints

December 13, 2005


Provided and copyright by: Steve Kluge, Fox Lane High School
Summary authors & editors: Steve Kluge

The dynamic nature of stream systems is revealed in this image of a section of Enfield Creek in Robert H. Treman State Park near Ithaca, New York. Headward erosion at the lip of this waterfall has caused the falls to migrate upstream (to the left in the photo), leaving behind the deep green plunge pool at the base of the falls (to the right in the photo). Just downstream of this spot, Enfield Creek plunges over the magnificent Lucifer Falls on its way to Cayuga Lake. Among the fascinating features of Enfield Glen are the 90 degrees fractures, or joints, in the rocks. This pattern of rectangular joints is Nature's way of efficiently relieving stress in the brittle rocks, and results in the natural but very regular, rectangular weathering and erosion of the gorge. Photograph taken on October 2, 2005.

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