August 26, 2011
Subterranean River Discovered Underneath The Amazon
Brazilian scientists said Thursday they believe they have discovered an underground river, nearly 3,700 miles long, flowing 13,000 feet below the Amazon River, according to various media reports.
Based on temperature variations at 241 inactive oil wells, researchers identified water movement more than 2 miles deep and running nearly the length of Amazon, said Valiya Hamza of Brazil´s National Observatory, for whom the possible river is named for.
Researchers believe the underground river, if confirmed to exist, runs west to east like the Amazon does. The underground flow indicates that the Amazon rain forest has two drainage systems.
The research team, led by Hamza and Elizabeth Pimentel, concluded that the oil wells, drilled by state-run oil giant Petrobras, were key to making the discovery. Hamza said “thermal information” provided by Petrobras allowed the team to identify the movement of water underground.
The findings, presented last week in Rio de Janeiro at a meeting of the Brazilian Geophysical Society, show that even though the two rivers -- Amazon and Hamza -- cover similar paths, they have differences. Hamza flows at a far slower pace and empties into the ocean deep underground.
“It is likely that this river is responsible for the low level of salinity in the waters around the mouth of the Amazon,” Hamza said in a statement.
Hamza stressed that the finding of the underground river was still in preliminary stages but noted that confirmation of the subterranean flow should come by the end of 2014. He declined to comment on the economic and environmental impact of an underground river in the Amazon rain forest.
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