Minimize Iguazú Falls

A crew member aboard the International Space Station pushed the camera system to the limit to focus on the famous Iguazú Falls on 24 May 2016. The falls are the second most popular tourist attraction in South America (after Machu Picchu), drawing more than one million visitors.

The wide Iguazú River makes a sharp bend before plunging over the falls, which appear as the brightest white patches in the image. The falls are 60 to 90 metres high (200 to 260 feet), stretching 2.7 kilometres (1.7 miles) but interrupted by numerous islands and, in places, by one or two steps.

Hotels are located near the falls on both the Argentine and Brazilian banks of the river (which is also the international boundary). Wooden walkways lead visitors to every part of the falls. The longest walkway leads from the Argentine side for 1 kilometre (0.6 miles), crosses a wide expanse of the river, and ends at the lip of the most dramatic sector of the falls-the Devil's Throat (Garganta del Diablo in Spanish). The falls here shoot a plume of spray so high into the air that it is visible from space. The early morning sun casts the shadow of the plume onto the river.

The falls run over hard layers of lava rock. River water and sediment are slowly eroding the falls backward (upstream). In this process, the wide sector of the river becomes a narrow gorge below the falls. The gorge is deep enough to cast its own shadow. The intense greens of the surrounding subtropical forests are protected by national parks established by Argentina and Brazil; both were declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in 1984.

View the full resolution image.

Credit: NASA Earth Observatory

Iguazu Falls

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