Great Falls on the Potomac River

October 08, 2004


Provided by: Earth Observatory, NASA Earth Observatory, Goddard Space Flight Center
Summary authors & editors: Earth Observatory; Jim Foster

The IKONOS satellite image above was captured on May 1, 2001 and shows Great Falls on the Potomac River, near Washington D.C. Approximately 35,000 years ago, the Potomac River began to form Great Falls. Though not tall in stature, Great Falls is nonetheless an impressive waterfall, especially along the eastern seaboard of the U.S. Situated about 24 km (15 miles) west of Washington, D.C., scenic Great Falls is a popular attraction to hikers, climbers, and kayakers as well as to those who simply want to stroll along the path of the old C&O (Chesapeake and Ohio) Canal to view the Falls. The Potomac River cascades over a series of several 6-meter (20-foot) falls and is then funneled through the narrow Mather Gorge. In all, the water falls a total of 23 meters (76 feet) in elevation over a distance of less than a mile.

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