Types of Waterfalls
Waterfalls are most popularly categorized by the appearance of their water flow. A tall, thin waterfall with a narrow horizontal width is a plunge, while a shorter, much wider waterfall is known as block. If a waterfall splits off from the top into one larger and one smaller vertical flow, it is labeled a horsetail. If, on the other hand, a waterfall divides up into multiple, tentacle-like streams of falling water, the designation becomes that of fan. Finally, where and how water gathers below for other waterfalls means the waterfall may be tagged as either a punch bowl, a tiered, a multi-step or a segmented.
However, there are broad-based, popular categories rather than scientific ones. For example, the cataract, which is defined as a waterfall that features a large amount of water flowing through it, could just as easily in some cases be labeled a block. Another way to divide up waterfalls is to determine whether they are destructive to the environment and destined to recede, or a permanently balanced fixture of the geological landscape and therefore constructive.
World Waterfall Database
Then again, in this era of the Internet and content portals that are maintained by dedicated volunteers, one could make a case that the best or at least certainly most user-friendly classification of waterfall types is the way 950 of these landmarks worldwide are arranged in the World Waterfall Database. The administrators of this database have managed to boil down the world's waterfalls to three simple criteria: height, magnitude and aesthetics. These are, arguably, the three areas of classification that matter most to travelers, sightseers and romantics at heart. Namely - How breathtaking is a waterfall (height)? How loud is the sound of the water falling (magnitude)? And how beautiful is the overall postcard picture (aesthetics)?
The Most Beautiful Waterfall on the Planet
For the record, when arranged by descending order of aesthetics, the World Waterfall Database reveals that only one of the world's waterfalls scores a perfect 100 score in this category. And it is probably one that you would never guess. According to the WWD, the most beautiful tumbling cascade of water on the planet is Langfoss (also known as Langfossen) waterfall in Fjaera, Norway. The one with the index's greatest magnitude, meanwhile, is Salto del Guaira, located in Brazil.