‘Ever seen a boiling river? I guess not! A mysterious, four-mile long river, deep in the heart of the Amazon, is so hot that it boils. The river has long been a legend in Peru, but when geoscientist Andrés Ruzo’s heard about it, he thought such a phenomenon couldn’t possibly exist.
He believed that it would require a huge amount of geothermal heat to boil even a small river, and the Amazon basin is far from any active volcanoes. But then, Ruzo saw the legendary boiling river with his own eyes.
Ruzo first heard about the Mayantuyacu river when his grandfather told him a story about how Spanish conquistadors killed the last Inca emperor. He said that after the murder, the Spanish conquistadors headed into the Amazon rain-forest in search of gold. When they returned, the men spoke of a terrifying experience that involved poisoned water, man-eating snakes and a river that boils from below.
Twelve years later, at a family dinner, Ruzo heard the river mentioned again when his aunt said that she had visited it. The river fascinated him growing up. As a PhD student in geophysics at Southern Methodist University in Texas, Ruzo wanted to find the river for himself.
Speaking on Ted Talk he said:
“I began asking that question. Could the boiling river exist? I asked colleagues from universities, the government, oil, gas and mining companies, and the answer was a unanimous ‘No’.
“And this makes sense. You see, boiling rivers do exist in the world, but they’re generally associated with volcanoes. You need a powerful heat source to produce such a large geothermal manifestation.
“Telling this same story at a family dinner, my aunt tells me, But no, Andrés, I’ve been there. I’ve swum in that river.”
Despite his skepticism, Runzo found himslef hiking into the jungle in 2011, guided by his aunt, far from the he nearest volcanic center. He said he was mentally preparing to behold the legendary ‘warm stream of the Amazon’ – but what he saw was very different.
Runzo discovered a four mile ‘boiling river’ in the sacred geothermal healing site of the Asháninka people in Mayantuyacu. At its widest, it is 82ft (25 metres), and around 20ft (six metres) deep. The water is hot enough to brew tea, according to a report in Gizmodo, and in some parts, it boils over.
Ruzo told Ted.com, ‘Dipping my hand into the river would give me third-degree burns in less than half a second. Falling in could easily kill me. The river boils because of fault-fed hot springs’.
Explaining in a Ted speech Andrés Ruzo said:
“As we have hot blood running through our veins and arteries, so, too, the Earth has hot water running through its cracks and faults. Where these arteries come to the surface, these earth arteries, we’ll get geothermal manifestations: fumaroles, hot springs and in our case, the boiling river.
“I’ve seen all sorts of animals fall in, and what’s shocking to me, is the process is pretty much the same. So they fall in and the first thing to go are the eyes. Eyes, apparently, cook very quickly. They turn this milky-white color. The stream is carrying them.
“They’re trying to swim out, but their meat is cooking on the bone because it’s so hot. So they’re losing power, losing power, until finally they get to a point where hot water goes into their mouths and they cook from the inside out.”
For some reason, the river has escaped scientific scrutiny. But Ruzo is on a mission to change that. He has published a ‘The Boiling River: Adventure and Discovery in the Amazon,‘ that publicises the river for the first time.
See video below: