A whirlpool is a swirling body of water usually produced by ocean tides. The vast majority of whirlpools are not very powerful. More powerful ones are more properly termed maelstroms. Vortex is the proper term for any whirlpool that has a downdraft. (Technically, these approximate to a 'free vortex', in which the tangential velocity (v) increases as the centre line is approached, so that the angular momentum (rv) is constant). Very small whirlpools can easily be seen when a bath or a sink is draining, but these are produced in a very different manner from those in nature. Smaller whirlpools also appear at the base of many waterfalls. In the case of powerful waterfalls, like Niagara Falls, these whirlpools can be quite strong. The most powerful whirlpools are created in narrow shallow straits with fast flowing water.

The five strongest whirlpools in the world are the Saltstraumen outside Bodø in Norway, which reaches speeds of 37 km/h; the Moskstraumen off the Lofoten islands in Norway (the original maelstrom), which reaches speeds of 27.8 km/h; the Old Sow in New Brunswick, Canada, which has been measured with a speed of up to 27.6 km/h; the Naruto whirlpool in Japan, which has a speed of 20 km/h; and the Corryvreckan in Scotland, which reaches speeds of 16 km/h.

Powerful whirlpools have killed unlucky seafarers, but their power tends to be exaggerated by laymen. There are virtually no stories of large ships ever being sucked into a whirlpool. Tales like those by Paul the Deacon, Jules Verne and Edgar Allan Poe are entirely fictional. The closest equivalent might have been the short-lived whirlpool that sucked in a portion of Lake Peigneur in New Iberia, Louisiana, USA after a drilling mishap in 1980. This was not a naturally-occurring whirlpool, but a man-made disaster caused by breaking through the roof of a salt mine. The lake then behaved like a gigantic bathtub being drained, until the mine filled and the water levels equalized. Although some boats and semi trailers were pulled into it in the classic whirlpool stereotype, no human lives were lost.

In popular imagination, but only rarely in reality, whirlpools can have the dangerous effect of destroying boats. In the 8th century, Paul the Deacon, who had lived among the Belgii, described tidal bores and the maelstrom for a Mediterranean audience unused to such violent tidal surges::"Not very far from this shore... toward the western side, on which the ocean main lies open without end, is that very deep whirlpool of waters which we call by its familiar name "the navel of the sea." This is said to suck in the waves and spew them forth again twice every day..."

:"They say there is another whirlpool of this kind between the island of Britain and the province of Galicia, and with this fact the coasts of the Seine region and of Aquitaine agree, for they are filled twice a day with such sudden inundations that any one who may by chance be found only a little inward from the shore can hardly get away."

:"I have heard a certain high nobleman of the Gauls relating that a number of ships, shattered at first by a tempest, were afterwards devoured by this same Charybdis. And when one only out of all the men who had been in these ships, still breathing, swam over the waves, while the rest were dying, he came, swept by the force of the receding waters, up to the edge of that most frightful abyss. And when now he beheld yawning before him the deep chaos whose end he could not see, and half dead from very fear, expected to be hurled into it, suddenly in a way that he could not have hoped he was cast upon a certain rock and sat him down." — Paul the Deacon, "History of the Lombards," i.6In "Vingt mille lieues sous les mers" (Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea), first published in 1869-1870 in the magazine "Magasin d'Éducation et de Récréation", Jules Verne (1828-1905) wrote ::"«Maelstrom! Maelstrom!» s'écriait-il! Le Maelstrom! Un nom plus effrayant dans une situation plus effrayante pouvait-il retentir à notre oreille? "

External links

* [http://espace.library.uq.edu.au/list.php?browse=author&author_id=193 Research articles on whirlpools and related topics by Professor Hubert Chanson, Department of Civil Engineering, The University of Queensland]


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • Whirlpool — Whirlpool …   Deutsch Wörterbuch

  • WHIRLPOOL — es una función de hash diseñada por Vincent Rijmen y Paulo S. L. M. Barreto. El hash ha sido recomendado por el proyecto NESSIE y ha sido adoptado por la Organización Internacional de Estandarización (ISO) y la Comisión Electrotécnica… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Whirlpool — хеш алгоритм, авторы Vincent Rijmen и Paulo S. L. M. Barreto. Работает на вводе до 2256 бит. Выходное значение алгоритма хеширования Whirlpool составляет 512 бит. Первая версия Whirlpool была опубликована в ноябре 2000 го года. Вторая версия… …   Википедия

  • Whirlpool — [ˈʍɜːɹlˌpuːl] kann folgende Bedeutungen haben: ein Wasserbecken bzw. Badewanne, siehe Whirlpool (Becken) ein Hersteller von Haushaltsgeräten, siehe Whirlpool Corporation ein Gefäß in der Brauerei, siehe Whirlpool (Brauerei) eine kryptographische… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • whirlpool — [hwʉrl′po͞ol΄, wʉrl′po͞ol΄] n. 1. water in rapid, violent, whirling motion caused by two meeting currents, by winds meeting tides, etc. and tending to form a circle into which floating objects are drawn; vortex or eddy of water 2. anything like a …   English World dictionary

  • whirlpool — ► NOUN 1) a quickly rotating mass of water in a river or sea into which objects may be drawn. 2) (also whirlpool bath) a heated pool in which hot aerated water is continuously circulated …   English terms dictionary

  • Whirlpool — Whirl pool , n. [1913 Webster] 1. An eddy or vortex of water; a place in a body of water where the water moves round in a circle so as to produce a depression or cavity in the center, into which floating objects may be drawn; any body of water… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • WHIRLPOOL — es una función de hash diseñada por Vincent Rijmen y Paulo S. L. M. Barreto. El hash ha sido recomendado por el proyecto NESSIE y ha sido adoptado por la Organización Internacional de Estandarización (ISO) y la Comisión Electrotécnica… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • whirlpool — 1520s, from WHIRL (Cf. whirl) (v.) + POOL (Cf. pool) (1). O.E. had hwyrfepol and wirfelmere …   Etymology dictionary

  • whirlpool — *eddy, maelstrom, vortex …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • whirlpool — [n] spinning water eddy, maelstrom, stir, undercurrent, undertow, vortex, whirl; concept 514 …   New thesaurus

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.