The Keralite who discovered River Hamza felicitated

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Dr VM Hamza
Kozhikode, Sept 7: Kerala-born scientist Dr Valiya Mannathal Hamza, who found that a 300-km wide river flows beneath the surface in South America, was felicitated by the district administration here yesterday.

Collector KV Mohan Kumar gave a memento to the 71-year-old and hailed his amazing discovery of Rio Hamza (River Hamza).

In 2011, a team of geophysicists announced that they have come across evidence of an underground river emptying itself in the Atlantic Ocean. Since the 6,000-km long aquifer runs at a depth of 2.5 miles, Dr Hamza described it as "like our Yamuna River flowing underneath the Amazon."

The flow rate of the world's largest river is two lakh cubic metre per second but Rio Hamza only flows at the rate of 3,900 cubic metre per second, he said.

While conducting research on some old wells which were dug by Petrobras oil company, Dr Hamza and his associates noticed that the area under the Amazon was very cool. The geo-thermal data indicated the presence of a mega subterranean river.

"To confirm our findings, we developed the world's smallest heat flow equipment and thermistor probe which could measure underground temperatures inside wells drilled in the Amazon region. We found that there were permeable rocks beneath the Amazon River and water from the river could penetrate up to 4 km deep," Dr Hamza told the audience yesterday.

"Kerala has had a long connection with Brazil and got many of its culinary favourites ranging from tapioca to cashew nut from that country. I am glad that I have been able to pay it back through the discovery of Rio Hamza," he added.

The native of Kunnamangalam did his postgraduate studies from the University of Kerala in 1960s. Though he worked briefly as a Senior Scientific Assistant at the National Geophysical Research Institute in Hyderabad, Hamza soon moved to the University of Western Ontario (Canada) for his PhD in 1968.

Six years later, he shifted to Brazil and started teaching at the University of Sao Paulo. Dr Hamza is now Professor Emeritus at the National Observatory in Rio de Janeiro.

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