Brazilian scientists reported finding a new river in the Amazon basin that they estimate is the same length but nearly 100 times as wide, The Guardian reports. Lead researchers Valiya Hamza and Elizabeth Tavares Pimentel of Brazil's National Observatory presented their findings at the International Congress of the Society Brasiliera Geophysical in Rio de Janeiro.
The scientists estimate that the river, which they have named Río Hamza, is about four kilometers beneath the Amazon River. According to USA Today, they identified water movements based on the variations in temperatures at 241 inactive oil wells that had been built in the 1970s and 1980s. They found that the water movement was more than two miles deep and ran nearly the length of the Amazon, which is the world's second longest river.
Starting in the Acre region of Brazil under the Andes, the scientists reported that the underground river flows eastward through the Solimoes, Amazonas and Marajo basins before emptying into the Atlantic Ocean. While the Amazon expands to about 100 kilometers at its widest and narrows to about one kilometer. The Hamza river, however, ranges from 200 to 400 kilometers in width, meaning that the Amazon rainforest has two drainage systems running east to west.
Despite its greater size, the Hamza does not drain less water than the Amazon. The Amazon passes about 133,000 meters cubed of water every second, at speeds of up to 5 meters per second. Scientists estimate that the underground river flows at about 3,900 meters cubed per second, and has a much slower flow. In addition, the scientists believe that the presence of the Hamza may explain why the salinity at the mouth of the Amazon is so low. The finding has not yet been confirmed, but Hamza reported that he expects to be able to confirm the flow by late 2014.
The new discovery only adds more intrigue and adventure to an Amazon River cruise. In addition to speculating what may be flowing deep beneath the river, guests are likely to spot Amazon pink dolphins and 13 species of primates, as well as hundreds of species of birds, reptiles and plants. In addition to a lesson in geology, the opportunities for nature travel along the river banks and within the Amazon rainforest are countless.
For the latest travel trends and exciting discoveries, visit our Amazon River Travel News section.