The Amazon River Just Aged Millions of Years

Scientists say waterway is closer to 9M years old, not the mere 1M they thought
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 22, 2017 12:49 PM CDT
The Amazon River Just Aged Millions of Years
An Amazon jungle guide surveys the shoreline about 100 miles from Manaus, Brazil.   (AP Photo/Jeremy Hainsworth)

Looks like the Amazon River may be able to cash in on some senior discounts after all. A new study carried out by scientists from the University of Amsterdam and Brazil's University of Brasilia, published in the Global and Planetary Change journal, upends previous speculation of how old the waterway really is, coming in now with numbers that age the Amazon substantially. While some earlier estimates placed the beginnings of the river as recently as 1 million years ago, the new tally backs that figure up to between 9 million and 9.4 million years ago, a press release notes. Researchers used "high-resolution analytical techniques" that hadn't been tapped into before to come up with the new number, co-author Farid Chemale Jr. notes.

Specifically, those techniques included examining sediment from an exploration borehole drilled for oil and gas purposes off the coast of Brazil, per UPI. Scientists found a "distinct change" in the makeup of the sediment layer there from the late Miocene period, which suggests the river source dumping the sediment changed then from somewhere in the lowlands to further up in the Andes, an area from which many believe the Amazon originated. Also discovered in the scientists' research: a spreading out of grasslands throughout the Amazon drainage basin during the Pleistocene era. (An amazing discovery at the Amazon's mouth, with photos.)

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