whirlpool, revolving current in an ocean, river, or lake. It may be caused by the configuration of the shore, irregularities in the bottom of the body of water, the meeting of opposing currents or tides, or the action of the wind upon the water. There are no true whirlpools really dangerous to shipping; the Maelstrom, near Norway, and Charybdis, near Sicily, are subjects of legend and myth, and Corrievrekin, near Scotland, was feared by the sailors of small boats. The Whirlpool Rapids below Niagara Falls are remarkable for their volume and violence, caused by an irregularity in the Niagara River channel. There is also a whirlpool below Victoria Falls in S Africa.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Geology and Oceanography