Valiya Mannathal Hamza who has
been bestowed the honour of an underground river flowing under
the Amazon being named after him.
Delhi: The 6,000-km Hamza river flows under the
Amazon, an India connect to the world's longest river. And Valiya
Mannathal Hamza, the Brazil-based scientist from Kerala who helped
in the discovery of the underground river with his student, says
he is thrilled their research has attracted such attention.
The Indian-origin professor at the National Observatory, Rio de
Janeiro, has just been bestowed the rare honour of having the
underground river flowing under the Amazon being named after him.
Brazilian scientists, who discovered the existence of the
underground river last week, took the decision to name it after
Hamza, in a tribute to his four-decade work in the region.
"I am happy that our research has attracted attention," Hamza, 70,
told IANS over the phone.
It was past midnight in Rio de Janeiro when he took the telephone
call. Hamza sounded enthusiastic but was also modest at his
My students decided to "name" the underground river after me, said
Hamza, who has been in Brazil for nearly 40 years.
Hamza said his student Elizabeth Tavares Pimentel was working on
her thesis when the study revealed the existence of the river
below the Amazon.
The discovery was made possible thanks to research work performed
at 241 wells that an oil company drilled in the Amazon region in
the 1970s while prospecting for crude, according to the study.
The subterranean river runs at a depth of about 4,000 metres along
a course similar to that of the Amazon.
The flow is just three percent of that of the Amazon river, which
has its headwaters in the Peruvian jungle, empties into the
Atlantic in northern Brazil and at 6,800 km is considered to be
the world's longest river.
"It is possible," said Hamza when asked whether he would like to
return to India to work on some project.
Hamza, who did his BSc in 1962 and MSc in 1964 from the University
of Kerala in Thiruvananthapuram, moved to Canada to do his PhD in
"I come from a place near Calicut in Kerala," said Hamza, who
first set foot in Brazil in 1974 and has since been conducting
research work there.
Hamza, a geophysicist who works with graduate and postgraduate
students, has to his credit over 100 publications in national and
Did he ever think he would spend a good part of his life in Brazil
when he was in Kerala?
"Well, I don't know...That's difficult...," said Hamza.
And what about learning Portuguese?
"I had to teach students so I had to learn Portuguese," said the
Indian-origin scientist before signing off.
(Rahul Dass can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)