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The secret of Nazaré Canyon
The huge wave in front of Nazaré comes every winter. A mass of water rolls down the coast, rears up and reaches a height of up to 30 meters. Big Waves are called this kind of waves and those in Nazaré gained its publicity almost 3 years ago when Garrett McNamara rode this wave, and thus gained a new world record.
But how does this wave arise?
Together with researchers from the Portuguese Hydrographic Institute McNamara examined the ground in front of Praia do Norte. The secret is the underwater canyon. A huge gab on the continental edge of Europe, which begins only a few kilometers from the beach of the fishing village.
With a length of 210 kilometers and at a depth of 4,300 meters the Nazaré Canyon is one of Europe ‘s deepest and longest canyon. Like a funnel he digs through the ocean bed, from the shelf ( name for the shallow, coastal seabed ) into the deep sea. This shape is the reason for the emergence of Big Waves. The part on the shelf zone of the canyon is only a few 100 meters wide. In the sea, the canyon widens to an amplitude of 7.5 kilometers. If the water is now pushed by winds and tides from the sea to the coast, it bounces on the northern edge of the underwater canyon. The sudden change in the structure ( it narrows from U-shape to V- shape ) on the shelf causes a deformation of the wave.
Through contact with the seabed, the wave is slowed on its underside, piles up higher and higher and finally turns over. Thus, the canyon functions like a great amp.
Less big waves you can ride at Atlantic Surf.