By Sarah de Sainte Croix, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – In the North of Brazil, scientists have discovered evidence of a huge, 6,000 kilometer long, subterranean river running four kilometers (almost 2.5 miles) below the surface and following the course of the Amazon River. The discovery was made by a team of scientists from Brazil’s National Geophysics Observatory, lead by Dr. Valiya Hamza.

The Amazon River from above, photo by Jon Rawlinson/Flickr Creative Commons License.

The underground river, like its surface-level counterpart, flows East to West, originating in the Andes and emptying out into the Atlantic Ocean at Amapá.

However, it is significantly wider, ranging from 200 to 400 kilometers wide, compared to the Amazon’s one to 100 kilometer width range, and flows much more slowly, at just one millimeter per second compared to five meters per second.

The team made the discovery whilst studying temperature variations in 241 inactive wells which were drilled in the 1970s and ‘80s by Brazil’s state-owned oil company, Petrobras, searching for hydrocarbons in the Amazon region.

The new river has been named the Rio Hamza in honor of Dr. Hamza, who has been studying the region for almost four decades.

Read more here (in Portuguese).

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