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Valiya Mannathal Hamza: The Indian scientist, honoured with a river named after him

Is it surprising to hear that the subterranean river of the Amazon rainforest has been named after a Malayalee? Yes, Dr Valiya Mannathal Hamza is a native of Kozhikode, Kerala. He visited Brazil on a tourist visa but stayed there for forty years, winning international recognition for his discovery of the river ‘Rio Hamza.

He is an Indian Scientist credited for co-discovering the large aquifer Rio Hamza, together with Elizabeth Tavares Pimentel. He is a permanent professor in Geophysics specialization at the Brazilian National Observatory.


After completing his schooling in Kunnamangalam, he did his graduation in physics from Devagiri College and post-graduation from Victoria College, Palakkad. He worked as a Senior Scientific Assistant at the National Geophysical Research Institute in Hyderabad from 1966 and then shifted to the University of Western Ontario[Canada] for his PhD in 1968. After six years he moved to Brazil.


He worked as an Associate Professor at the University of Sao Paulo from 1974 to 1981 and as a Research Supervisor at the Institute of Technology Research from 1982 to 1993.He also served as a Secretary of the International Heat Flow Commission and a member of the executive committee of the International Association of Seismology and Physics of the Earth’s Interior. He was also a member of the editorial board of “The International Journal of Geochemistry and Geophysics”.

River Hamza

It is the unofficial name of a slow-flowing river in Brazil and Peru, six thousand kilometres long at a depth of nearly four kilometres. The discovery was made public in a meeting of the Geophysical Society in 2011. They give this unofficial name in honour of his research for four decades in that region. River Hamza and Amazon are the main drainage systems for the Amazon basin. ‘The Hamza’ was discovered by a team of scientists led by Valiya Hamza.




They located River Hamza using the data collected from two hundred and forty-one active oil wells in the area drilled in the 1970s and 1980s by the petrochemical company, Petrobras in search of hydrocarbons. River Hamza flows at a depth similar to that of Amazon with a flow rate of about three thousand cubic meters per second. Hamza comments that the thermal information allowed his researchers to recognize the movement of water 13,100 feet beneath the river. Elizabeth Pimentel and Valiya Hamza led the work and presented it before the International Congress of the Society Brasiliera Geophysical in Rio de Janeiro. It was his students who first suggested this name to the underground water source.