Cascade d’Étufs

Useful Information

Old postcard The petrifying waterfall of Etuf in Auberive, Haute-Marne, France
Location: Rouvres-sur-Aube (52160) in Haute-Marne, between Langres and Châtillon-sur-Seine.
(47.874483, 4.965844)
Open: All year daily 10-19.
Fee: free.
Classification: KarstKarst Spring KarstTufa Deposits KarstTufa Runnel
Light: n/a
Dimension: L=50 m, VR=15 m.
Guided tours: n/a
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Cascades d'Étufs (Source Pétrifiante), 52160 Rouvres-sur-Aube
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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The Cascade d’Étufs is an elevated riverbed of a limestone rich brook. While flowing through the forest, the water looses CO2 and the dissolved limestone precipitates. The limestone is mostly deposited at the rims, so the whole bed is elevated. Steeper parts are sometimes causing rimstone pools on top of the elevated bed, where the water runs down in small waterfalls. On historic postcards you can see a series of huge rimstone pools, which are mostly gone today.

Behind the waterfalls is a plateau and the water runs in a normal riverbed for about 100 m from the spring. This plateau is also tufa, which was deposited starting from the spring, growing continually over thousands of years. As long as the water flows calm on top of the tufa plateau the amount of precipitated limestone is low. The process is intensified by the water flowing fast and cascading over rims, which increases the exchange of CO2 and O2 with the air. The water looses the carbon dioxide which reduces its ability to dissolve the limestone, which is hence precipitated. Other reasons are higher temperatures outside the forested area, and plants like moss which consume the carbon dioxide.

To protect the site, which is private property, it is not possible to enter the location. You can park at the parking lot of Chateau d'Étufs and walk around the castle. There is a single outlook where you can see the waterfall. The best time to visit the site is in spring during snow melt and after especially rainy weather, when the yield of the spring is highest and the vegetation is still low.