A professor from Kozhikode could not have imagined discovering the subterranean twin of the world’s longest river, Amazon. He believed that he could have lived a life of comfort teaching physics in Feroke College, Khozikode. But there were unusual geological findings waiting for his keen eyes and scientific understanding to come out.
Dr Valiya Mannathal Hamza reached Brazil only on a six months tourist visa but ended up spending 40 years. He discovered the ‘Hamza River’ right beneath Brazil’s Amazon river, which could be the longest underground river.
It is 4 kms deep from the surface and has a length of 6,000 km. This was the first of its kind twin-river geological finding to come to light.
Before reaching Brazil, Dr Hamza went from Feroke to National Geophysical Research Institute in Hyderabad as a scientific assistant in 1966. Two years later, he got a National Research Council of Canada scholarship in 1968, wnet to Ontario and completed his doctorate in 1973. A year later, he was in Brazil.
Soon after stepping in Brazil, Dr. Hamza realized that the country is lacking in the research domain. He then opened his own laboratory. His researches in the field of oil exploration, mineral mining, climate change, etc., attracted the Federal Government’s attention. While talking about the discovery of Hamza River in 2012, he told The Hindu:
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“During our researches we found that Petrobras (state-run oil company) had recorded subterranean temperature variations. But they had not bothered to analyze the data. They were only interested in oil. The only way to produce that kind of cooling is when there is a sub-surface flow. Our technique and analysis was unique. It was my students who decided to honor me by naming the river after me.”
Dr. Hamza found a number of difficulties while getting acceptance for his finding as some members of scientific community refused the terminology “river” for the aquifer.
The researchers claimed that the water moves through the porous rock in centimeres or inches per year. However, Prof. Hamza told BBC that the term ‘river’ has been used in a more generic sense than the popular notion.
The Amazon region is a land of mysteries. Time and again, scientists come up with discoveries that go beyond our imagination. Dr. Hamza gave his contribution to the mighty river. God knows what all wonderous secrets are still hiding from us!