Science Trips – Mauritius Underwater Waterfall and how it was formed

Science Trips - Mauritius Underwater Waterfall and how it was formed

Among the natural wonders of Mauritius is a spectacular waterfall under the sea, as it appeared there

Mauritius is an independent country located east of Madagascar, in the middle of the Indian Ocean. It is a true natural paradise formed in a volcanic area that is home to unique flora and fauna, a huge series of coral reefs and a spectacular photo for hunters of wild wonders: the underwater waterfall.

Most of the waterfalls we know, such as Niagara Falls or Iguazu Falls, consist of the waters of a river or lake that descend a slope into the ground. But there are also other waterfalls that we don’t see, under the oceans, where masses of water rush to the bottom of the sea due to the difference in temperature.

In the Strait of Denmark, near the Arctic Circle, in the waters between Greenland and Iceland, the waters coming from the Icelandic side are close to the freezing point. When they collide with the warmer waters of the Irminger Sea, the cold water descends an invisible waterfall in a 3.5 kilometer drop.

However, this has nothing to do with what is happening on the island of Mauritius.

a sand waterfall

The Mascarene Islands, the archipelago where the island of Mauritius is located, are parts that emerged from a submarine plateau of volcanic origin. Mauritius is on the edge of the plateau and close to the coast of the island there is an almost abrupt drop to deeper waters.

The shallow coastal waters of Mauritius are light blue, while the depths of the open ocean are a much darker blue. What you see off the coast of the island is this underwater cliff, and what appears to be a stream of water running down to the bottom is actually sand.

Aerial view of the rift in Mauritius Source: Google Maps.

Aerial view of the rift in Mauritius Source: Google Maps.

The island platform is subject to erosion by ocean waves, rain and wind. Sea currents move this sand back and forth on the shallow platforms that border the island. However, in the cut where the shallow platforms end and there is a drop towards the ocean waters, the sand sinks under its weight towards the depths.

This phenomenon on the island of Mauritius is unique because erosion is particularly directional. There is a horseshoe-shaped crevice at the end of the underwater plateau, and as the currents carry the sand, it falls through the crevice. The optical effect is this spectacular underwater turquoise waterfall.

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