Discover the Largest Waterfall in the World (Almost a 2-Mile Drop!)

Denmark Strait
Uwe Dedering / CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Written by Angie Menjivar

Updated: September 25, 2023

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Key Points:
  • The largest waterfall in the world is the Denmark Strait Cataract.
  • It is an undersea waterfall nestled deep in the sea in a space between Iceland and Greenland.
  • This waterfall is inaccessible and even if you ventured close, it would be a deadly excursion.

When you imagine a waterfall, you can almost feel the water misting your skin, hear the loud splashes of the water as it hits more water, and see the iridescent rainbows that form throughout. But there are other types of waterfalls you may not know about. Discover the largest waterfall in the world and what makes it so unique (besides its size!).

Infographic of the Largest Waterfall in the World
Denmark Strait Cataract is located underwater on the western side of the Denmark Strait.

Discover the Largest Waterfall in the World

The largest waterfall in the world is the Denmark Strait Cataract. This waterfall is unlike the one you may have been picturing. Whereas the largest on-land waterfall is found in Venezuela, the Denmark Strait Cataract is nestled deep in the sea in a space between Iceland and Greenland. Yes, you read that correctly — it’s in the sea. It’s an underwater waterfall! While its size is staggering, the mere fact that an underwater waterfall exists may just be the most wondrous aspect.

The ocean is a vast environment that incorporates many variables. Sometimes there is low salinity and other times there is high salinity. In some portions of the world, the ocean waters are warm whereas in other parts of the world, the ocean waters are freezing. With all of these factors interacting with one another in the ocean’s environment, what you get is a rather dynamic place.

Aerial view of Mauritius island and Le Morne Brabant mountain with beautiful blue lagoon and underwater waterfall illusion

Underwater waterfalls like Mauritius (pictured) form when cold and warmer ocean waters collide.

How Did the Underwater Waterfall Form?

For the Denmark Strait Cataract, it’s ultimately differences in temperature between the Irminger Sea and the Greenland Sea that create this marvel. The Greenland Sea has freezing Arctic waters and the Irminger Sea has a slightly warmer temperature. The cold water gets dense so when the two seas meet, the Greenland Sea slides down into that waterfall formation. This waterfall plunges down almost two miles and carries with it 175,000,000 cubic feet of water per second. It provides one of the primary inflows of North Atlantic Deep Water. Even the largest waterfall on land in Venezuela, Angel Falls, which drops 3,212 feet and is 500 feet wide at the base, cannot carry a torch next to this underwater wonder.

Can You Visit the Denmark Strait Cataract?

The Denmark Strait Cataract is not a place you can visit the way you would Niagara Falls. This waterfall is inaccessible and even if you ventured close, it would be a deadly excursion. There is nowhere for you to go enjoy and receive the mist kicked up by the ocean’s waters. There is no gift shop located anywhere near with trinkets and souvenirs and there is no fearless tour guide offering a trip to try and see it. It’s underwater, after all, and by no means safe for scuba diving!


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About the Author

Angie Menjivar is a writer at A-Z-Animals primarily covering pets, wildlife, and the human spirit. She has 14 years of experience, holds a Bachelor's degree in psychology, and continues her studies into human behavior, working as a copywriter in the mental health space. She resides in North Carolina, where she's fallen in love with thunderstorms and uses them as an excuse to get extra cuddles from her three cats.

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