Tonight it is time to sing “Take me to the river,” but don’t drop me in it as Phil Keoghan’s segment on Explorer heads to Peru’s Boiling River, where the temperatures are 200 degrees Fahrenheit, enough to cook you alive!
The total river system is about 5.5 miles, but it’s the 3.8 miles on the lower part of the river that are recorded as hot. Technically, the river starts off as a cold stream, heats up, then cools back down slightly at night, with a recorded range that goes from 27 degrees Celsius to about 94 degrees Celsius. Hot springs inject this boiling water into the river to produce this phenomenon.
And in our exclusive clip, Phil is walking alongside this cauldron of steaming water that would kill him if he slipped. His guide is Andrés Ruzo, a National Geographic Young Explorer.
Now a geophysicist, Ruzo first heard about the Boiling River from his Peruvian grandfather. He tells Nat Geo in an interview:
“I first heard the story of the Boiling River as a boy in Lima from my grandfather as part of a legend of a lost city of gold in the Amazon. Much later, when I was working on my PhD in geophysics, I started looking at this detail from a scientific viewpoint. The focus of my dissertation was to create the first detailed heat flow map of Peru in order to identify areas of potential geothermal energy.”
Walking with his expert guide who knows the river, Phil says: “As we resume our trek I see why people might seek out protection.”
As he moves further down the river, his guide Andres Ruzo cautions him more as Phil notes, “The water here has jumped to over a hundred and thirty degrees… the temperature of hot coffee.”
As Ruzo shows him the winding river that gets hotter with each step, Phil says, “But the danger is worth the risk because this superheated river is also a scientist’s treasure trove. The field lab where Andres is unlocking the secrets of an ancient mysterious geological system. That’s why he keeps coming back.”
He asks Ruzo, “Can you think of anywhere on the planet that is four hundred miles away from a volcano that has this much power?”
Ruzo is adamant they are in a wholly unique geothermal spot that takes the cake, heat-wise. Smiling and looking all around, he sweeps his arm to make his point as he says,”This much energy coming out of the ground today? This guy’s got no contenders… we haven’t found anything as big and powerful as The Boiling River!”
In an article for Nat Geo, Ruzo is interviewed about this river. There is some speculation that this boiling river might have been man-made, the result of an oil field accident, as it is situated about 2 kilometers from an active oil field in the Peruvian Amazon according to Nat Geo.
Also tonight, Mariana van Zeller investigates the mysterious attack on the U.S. embassy workers in Cuba and Cara Santa Maria explores breakthroughs for people with missing senses. A BrainPort allows blind people to see by using their tongues, to a vest that uses vibration to simulate the sense of hearing. Francesca Fiorentini takes us to the Pacific Northwest to research how a snowflake turns into a deadly avalanche.
Explorer airs Mondays at 6/5c on National Geographic Channel.