I am creating an RPG and came across an image that I wanted to base my landscape on. It is shown above. Is it possible for terrain like that to form on Earth (ignore the wildlife)? If it is, how could it form?

By this, I mean two rivers on opposite sides splitting into several small streams and each of those streams emptying into a single waterfall; the streams must meet the waterfall at different parts of it. In addition, small but tall mountains covered with trees must form all around the waterfall. A city could (obviously) be built around that location if it is possible.

Image credit: https://www.pixiv.net/en/artworks/58916801

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    $\begingroup$ Its slightly like the underwater water falls in Mauritius anorak.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/… $\endgroup$
    – user69935
    Apr 20, 2020 at 0:43
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    $\begingroup$ I can't speak about the geology, but I sure wouldn't want to build a city right there. Any boat not tied down well enough would go over the falls, as would a non-negligible number of unlucky people. I guess if you built a bridge over the chasm that's the only viable path for miles, then that would be a strategically valuable trade/military city, but I'd rather put a fortress or outpost there than let civilians anywhere near it. $\endgroup$ Apr 20, 2020 at 0:44
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    $\begingroup$ Those mountains you got there, that stick out? Not possible. Can't exist. Gravity. $\endgroup$
    – Gimelist
    Apr 20, 2020 at 0:48
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    $\begingroup$ @Gimelist I think they're just talking about the chasm in the foreground $\endgroup$ Apr 20, 2020 at 0:50
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    $\begingroup$ Chasms are definitely possible. Many real waterfalls empty into a chasm. That's why they are waterfalls. The splitting thing is slightly harder, because these usually require a flood plain. If you are ok with your rivers and streams being occasionally flooded into one big river, then relaxing to form smaller streams, then it is more feasible. $\endgroup$
    – Gimelist
    Apr 20, 2020 at 1:20

4 Answers 4


It seems likely this drawing was inspired by the real Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe and Zambia.

Victoria Falls Photographer: De Agostini Editorial/Getty Images

So, yes.

The Victoria Falls are a result of the Upper Zambezi eroding a gorge from sandstone that had filled cracks in the underlying basalt.

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    $\begingroup$ This answer might be improved by describing the geography that enabled Victoria Falls. That said, it was the place I immediately thought of, and you got a +1 from me. $\endgroup$
    – codeMonkey
    Apr 20, 2020 at 14:29
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    $\begingroup$ The Iguazu Falls in Brazil and Argentina are even more similar, with the water coming from both sides of the gorge. $\endgroup$
    – Aetol
    Apr 20, 2020 at 18:13
  • $\begingroup$ And in Brazil, there are the tepui near where high falls can form. They don't overhang like the background mesas, but they do provide the ability to base jump more than a thousand meters (good luck landing safely in the jungle below, though). $\endgroup$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Apr 20, 2020 at 18:47
  • $\begingroup$ While the Iguazu Falls are similar in that respect, they also have pronounced steps not present in the drawing, and lack a forking river system on the approach to the precipice. Both are formed over a basalt layer, however. $\endgroup$
    – rek
    Apr 21, 2020 at 4:49

Yes, but it is not easy.

It won't work on earth but it could work on a earth like planet.

everything in the image is possible getting it all in the same place is the hard part.

we have rocks structures like that on earth, they are the product of wind erosion or wave erosion.

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But you need lighter gravity to get them on that scale. So what you could have is a what used to be shoreline but the oceans retreated, so likely your world is going through the beginnings of an ice age. But in the warmer regions you may see something like this, exposed areas that used to be dryer and dominated by wind and/or shoreline erosion, suddenly greening.

Soils are just starting to form and a lot of the greens are lichens and mosses, or aggressive grasses. we don't have enough aggressive greenery for this on earth but it is not a far stretch.

The environment wont last long the same soil forming process that make the plants possible will destroy the stone structures fairly quickly.


What you need a very large river that flows very slowly, as would be the case on a flood plain. This will enable the river to form meanders and oxbow lakes. Then the same arrangement coming from another valley. At the confluence where the two rivers meet to form an even bigger river, there is a large underground limestone layer which has been eroded by water for millions of years leading to the formation of an underground river and cave system that eventually the formation of dolines and the ground falls away swallowing the river. Lesser cave-ins lead to an uneven surface. As the rivers approach this point they form distributaries because the water flow is slow and stagnant in the run up to the limestone area. These all pour separately into the central cavern.

Karst limestone is also responsible for a number of other formations that might be of interest. In Plitvice Croatia the carbonate saturated water has a tendency to crystallise around anything (such as a tree branch) that falls into the water. This leads to the buildup of spectacular series of dams and waterfalls.


Yes, but what would need to happen is quite hard in nature. The rivers probably originated close to each other, because then all the gushing water would slowly erode into separate paths which is quite common. However, the rivers meeting again is quite rare as the meanders that each river has formed will go different ways.

However, in the background there are floating islands which is impossible. Unless there is an INCREDIBLY strong current of wind underneath it's impossible.


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