This Incredible ‘Boiling River’ Is A Scientific Enigma

Feb 23, 2016

Photo credit: Sofia Ruzo

By Chris D’Angelo

When geoscientist and National Geographic explorer Andrés Ruzo was growing up in Lima, Peru, his grandfather used to tell him wild stories of Spanish conquistadors, cities of gold, and an Amazonian river so hot it could boil men alive.

But it wasn’t until Ruzo was studying geothermal energy that he decided to look into this mythical boiling river — and, much to his surprise, actually found it. While boiling rivers do exist in the world, they are usually found close to active volcanos. This river is especially remarkable because it runs more than 400 miles from the nearest active volcano — the only non-volcanic river known to boil on Earth.

“At a time when everything seems mapped, measured and understood, this river challenges what we think we know,” Ruzo writes in his new book, The Boiling River: Adventure and Discovery in the Amazon. “It is a reminder that there are still great wonders to be discovered.”


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10 comments on “This Incredible ‘Boiling River’ Is A Scientific Enigma

  • Yet another manifestation of the power of stars to create everything we see around us, including the rocky , rusty ball bearing, that is the Earth. All that energy to boil the water came from stars and no doubt a few supanovae were involved. Our humble yellow sun also plays its part in keeping a somewhat stable biosphere possible.

    No need for God, nature is far more creative.



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  • Indeed, the boiling of the rivers came entirely from supernovae. Uranium and thorium which fuels the nuclear reactor at the earth’s core and thus all geo-thermal activities are only made in those super-energetic events.



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  • phil rimmer #3
    Feb 24, 2016 at 5:18 pm

    The boiling rivers came entirely from supernovae. Uranium and thorium which fuels the nuclear reactor at the earth’s core are only made in those super-energetic events.

    . . . Aided and abetted by the residual heat from the gravitational collapse of part of the accretion disk into a planet – which is also powered by the gravity of the heavy elements created in supernovae to make up rocky planets, and the cores of giant planets!

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2016/02/exoplanet-census-suggests-earth-is-special-after-all/#li-comment-198579



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  • Alan #4

    Using Steffan’s Law etc. average thermal capacities and conductivities of rock, I believe the intial accretion heating using Kelvin’s (later more accurate) modeling for conductive then radiative heat loss put the Earth’s age at 20 million years. Given an Earth 225 times older than this, the initial heating effect is a truly negligible contribution now.



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  • Alan,

    Here’s a heat loss budget

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth's_internal_heat_budget

    In fact its still highly uncertain between radiogenic and primordial heat. It seems co-equal. So I must withdraw my earlier argument favouring Radiogenic heat dominating. Your comment was entirely appropriate. My apologies for misleading us.

    (Kelvin amended his 1862 estimated of the Earth’s age from 100M years to 20M years in 1897!)

    From the rate of loss of Earth’s rotational energy, Tidal contributions would amount to 3.5TW out of a total of 45TW net flux from the earth.

    Its always a good day when I learn I’m wrong….



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  • phil rimmer #7
    Feb 25, 2016 at 12:54 pm

    From the rate of loss of Earth’s rotational energy, Tidal contributions would amount to 3.5TW out of a total of 45TW net flux from the earth.

    I think the feature we were both making, was that whether from radioactive decay, or from gravitational and mechanical forces, all of these heat sources are derived from the properties of heavy elements generated in supernovae!



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  • With the observation of gravity waves, let’s hope he science advances at a faster rate in understanding that most mysterious of forces. Without mass, no gravity. Without energy no matter, without gravity and mass no stars, and no life. Have I got the big bang right, pure energy to begin with ?



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  • @ OP – reminder…still great things to be discovered

    February’s super bloom Death Valley, strong El Niño, seemingly barren landscape pops to life.

    Is there good evidence climate change is affecting Niño and Niña. The “super bloom”, would be an easy way to show the general public how fluid Earth is. For better or worse, they / we are connected.

    “the Universe is in us” – NdeGT



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