Underground River Discovered Beneath Amazon

August 26, 2011 / Brazil, South America
Amazon River

Photo by TravelingLao/Flickr

Brazilian scientists have discovered a new river in the Amazon basin. What makes it especially interested is that it runs ~4 kilometers below the Amazon river. The newly discovered river has been dubbed Rio Hamza after the lead researcher in the team that found it.

Initial estimates of 6,000 kilometers (3,728 miles) long, make it as long as the Amazon itself, however the Rio Hamza appears to be much, MUCH wider. Whereas the Amazon ranges from 1 to 100 kilometers (0.6 to 62 miles) wide, the Hamza ranges from 200 to 400 kilometers (124 to 248 miles) wide.

The underground river starts in an area under the Andes and flows through Brazil before opening into Atlantic Ocean.

The Hamza was discovered by using data collected from a series of abandoned wells that were drilled by the oil and gasoline company Petrobras in the 1970s and 1980s. Some 241 of these deep wells were measured for temperature changes. During the research it was found that the flow of groundwater was almost vertical until 2,000 meters deep, afterward the flow became horizontal.

With an estimated flow of less than one millimeter per hour, the Hamza is not going to win a race with the mighty Amazon and it’s 5 meters per second flow rate.

The presence of the Rio Hamza river explain why the Amazon has low salinity at it’s mouth. Further research and additional measurements will be done over the next few years to confirm discovery of the new river.

Underground river ‘Rio Hamza’ discovered 4km beneath the Amazon [The Guardian via Reddit]

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