Scientists have discovered a new river, which they claim is as long as the Amazon River and up to hundred times wider.
According to researchers from Brazil's National Observatory, the newly found subterranean river is flowing 13,000 feet below the world's second longest river Amazon.
Named after Valiya Hamza who led the research, the river, Rio Hamza, is the flow of groundwater through the deep sedimentary layers. Thus, the Amazon rainforest has two separate drainage systems, the other one being the surface drainage through the Amazon.
With a length of 6,000 kilometers, both the Amazon and Hamza flow from west to east, but they differ in their width. The Amazon ranges from 1 kilometer to 100 kilometers in width, while Hamza ranges from 200 kilometers to 400 kilometers. However, the Amazon flows much faster than the Hamza.
The starting point of the underground river is believed to be the Acre region under the Andes, and it reaches the sea at Foz do Amazons, flowing through basins of rivers Solimões, Amazon and Marajo.
According to Hamza, the information about the river originated from the 241 inactive oil wells that were drilled by the Brazilian oil company Petrobras in the 1970s. The company provided the researchers thermal information, which allowed them to identify the movement of water 13,100 feet below the Amazon River.
As per computer simulations, the groundwater flow is largely vertical to about 2,000 feet deep. However, at greater depths, it changes direction and becomes horizontal.
Compared to the Amazon, which has a flow rate of 1,30,000 cubic meters per second, the Hamza is estimated at 3,900 cubic meters per second. But even then, it is pretty significant. If it was on the surface it would be bigger than the São Francisco river, says Hamza.
The river is formed by fresh water, but due to its great depth, its temperature is 30-35 degrees, which is much warmer than the tropically heated Amazon River, Irish Times reported.
It empties in the Atlantic Ocean, deep under the surface and may also be responsible for the low salinity around the mouth of the Amazon River, researchers said.
Hamza said that the studies are still at an early stage. He hopes that he'll be able to confirm the subterranean flow of water by the end of 2014. If the estimated length of 6,000 kilometers is confirmed, Rio Hamza would follow the Mississippi as the fifth-longest river in the world.