Wider than a 2 lane road and 3.9 miles long, a lot of energy is required to keep its average temperature at 186.8 degrees Fahrenheit. Locals call this river Shanay-timpishka which means “boiled with the heat of the Sun.”
The Amazon is a place of mystery, legend and folklore. A place where the myths turn out to be truths as we probe deeper and deeper into its depths. So was the case with this boiling river.
Andres Ruzo a geophysicist first located it and started studying it in 2011. He insists that he did not discover the river because indigenous Amazonian communities knew about it, yet it had never been mapped. Through his work, Ruzo has begun to uncover some of this mysterious river’s secrets.
“The most amazing thing about it is its size. After all, you don’t necessarily need a volcano for a hot spring, but when there aren’t volcanoes nearby, they’re not normally this big” explained Ruzo.
During a TED talk in 2014, Ruzo explained that the river is hot enough to kill most animals that fall into it as he had seen several times. He describe the unfortunate situation in depth explaining “the first thing to go are the eyes,” then the flesh begins to cook.
Natural hot water sources are not uncommon and geothermal springs are found throughout the world. But they are usually close to volcanic activity. This boiling river in Peru is more than 435 miles from the closest volcanic center.
This all begs the question: Where is this heat coming from?
According to Ruzo’s chemical analysis of the water, it is meteoric, or rain water, but he is not sure where this rain water first landed. Although he is getting close to answering that question.
It is likely that the rainwater seeped beneath the ground then it was heated by the Earth’s geothermal energy, before re-appearing in this river. Most likely it is from a massive hydrothermal system.
Not only is this river unique, but it is also has uniquely adapted life forms living in and around it. Several new species of extremophiles have already been identified, that are not seen anywhere else on earth.