Two of the three waterfalls that make up Niagara Falls – Bridal Veil Falls and American Falls – may be dried out to allow workers to fix the pedestrian bridges that provide mesmerising views of the falls, according to officials.
Turning off Niagara Falls could actually do more than just help the workers do their job: it could potentially reveal geological secrets, such as the rock-cutting process that take place underneath the waterfalls.
Marcus Bursik, a geologist with the University at Buffalo, said that Niagara Falls have not been studied a lot geologically. If the water is cut off, he and his colleagues might do some geological researches to analyse the changes that took place in the falls, Bursik added.
The dry-out would enable workers to repair the pedestrian bridges around that falls that are more than one century old. Ever since 2004, the two bridges have been closed because experts have deemed them too dangerous for people to cross over.
Because a narrow channel feeds both the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls, it will be easier for the workers to temporarily plug that channel with a cofferdam (also known as a coffer) – an enclosure built to prevent water from entering that specific area of the falls.
In 1969, when the Niagara Falls was dried out, engineers took photos of the rock face. At that time, about 28,000 tons of rock were used to make the cofferdam that ‘turn off’ the falls – and which spanned six hundred feet (183 metres). The engineers also bolted some of the rock face to prevent it from collapsing in the future.
According to Bursik, once the falls are drained, the team will use laser ranging, stereo photography, which helps generate stereoscopic images, and drones with mounted cameras – all of these to make detailed maps of the underlying rock. The whole process would take a few weeks to complete, which is a good thing since the falls will be kept dry for several months, Bursik said. (note: stereoscopics or stereoscopy is a technique that creates the illusion of depth in an image)
Then, the team will compare the new images with those taken in 1969 to see how the rock was cut by the flow of the water over the years. The detailed map could also help geologists better understand the principles for how waterfalls carve out their paths, Bursik noted.
Image Source: res. cloudinary