Paulo Afonso Falls

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Paulo Afonso Falls
E. F. Schute - Cachoeira de Paulo Afonso, 1850.jpg
An 1850 painting of the falls
Location Brazil
Coordinates 9°23′21″S 38°11′45″W / 9.3890899°S 38.1957704°W / -9.3890899; -38.1957704Coordinates: 9°23′21″S 38°11′45″W / 9.3890899°S 38.1957704°W / -9.3890899; -38.1957704
Type Tiered
Total height 275 feet
Number of drops 3
Watercourse São Francisco River

Paulo Afonso Falls (Portuguese: Cachoeira de Paulo Afonso[1]) is a series of waterfalls on the São Francisco River in the north-east of Brazil adjacent to the city of Paulo Afonso. They stand up to 275 feet (84 m) high. Upstream of the falls, a hydroelectric dam, the Hidrelétrica de Angiquinho (the first hydroelectric plant in northeastern Brazil)[2] blocks the flow of the river. Prior to the damming of the river, the average water flow over the falls was over 100,000 cu ft/s (2,800 m3/s), and floods exceeded 500,000 cu ft/s (14,000 m3/s).[1][3]

The falls consist of a steep rapid that descends approximately 80 feet (24 m) and then drops a main plunge of 260 feet (79 m) into a narrow gorge.[1]

The Paulo Afonso Hydroelectric Complex that grew from the original plant was known as Complexo Hidrelétrico de Paulo Afonso in Portuguese, or locally simply as Paulo Afonso.[4] This, and later plants, such as the Hidrelétrica de Xingó downstream, near the town of Piranhas, Alagoas,[5] provide much of the region with electric power.[6]