SMU grad student discovers river in Peru so hot it boils animals alive

Ph.D. student Adrés Ruzo chased the legend of the boiling river until he found the real thing.

Adrés Ruzo

By Julia Calderone

Deep in the heart of the Peruvian Amazon, an anomalous and perplexing natural wonder lies: A raging river that boils.

Once just the stuff of folklore, geophysicist Andrés Ruzo, a PhD student at Southern Methodist University, set out to find the legendary waterway himself.

He not only found it, but he confirmed that it does, in fact, surge at a scalding 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

"It feels like I'm in a sauna inside a toaster oven," Ruzo said sitting on the bank of the river in his new book, The Boiling River: Adventure and Discovery in the Amazon. (Ruzo also discussed his quest to understand its puzzling features in a recent TED talk.)

While the temperatures are consistent with those of many other natural volcanic and nonvolcanic geothermal systems, the sheer volume of water in the river is perplexing. Without a powerful heat source, such as an active volcano, the river shouldn't boil this hot and high.

Here's the story of the boiling river, which rages in a forested region called Mayantuyacu.

Read the full story and see photos from the field.

Ruzo’s TED Talk at TEDGlobal 2014:

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