Waterfalls as Focal Points of Geology and Culture

My concentration will examine waterfalls through the perspectives of geomorphology, religion, and tourism. Waterfalls are geologically unique places as they are points of inflection in a watershed – boundaries between relict and adjusting topography. Their formation involves powerful elements of weathering and erosion. These are both forces that test bedrock strength, change waterfall appearance and move waterfalls upstream over time – an important actor in the evolution of stream morphology. Apart from the geologic significance of waterfalls, many have deep religious significance. Such is the case in Japan at places like Nachi Falls – a popular site of buddhist and shinto religious pilgrimage that evolved into a modern day tourist destination. Tourism and its economic impacts on communities near waterfalls will also be considered. Additionally, the pros and cons regarding impacts of visitation on waterfall areas like the Columbia River Gorge will be assessed.

Some questions addressing the topics mentioned above will include:

In what range of landscapes do waterfalls occur?

What aspects of waterfalls are people drawn to?

What effect does waterfall appearance or location have on religious significance?

What are the most effective methods of waterfall visitation and preservation?

View my final concentration here.