Peru: New satellite photographs from the KOMPSAT-2 satellite have allowed Jacek Palkiewicz, an Italian-Polish explorer and journalist, to finally prove a hypothesis about the origin of the Amazon that he first proposed over 15 years ago: that the largest river in the world begins at a small spring in the Apacheta ravine in Peru’s southeastern province of Arequipa, 5,170 meters above sea level.
Palkiewicz’s photos, taken from the KOMPSAT-2, a high-resolution satellite belonging to the Korean Aerospace Research Institute, make it clear that McIntyre Lagoon cannot be the birthplace of the Amazon. The images show that the lagoon has no link to the Carhuasanta ravine, and in fact, that there is a large expanse of dry earth between the two bodies of water, Palkiewicz says.
According to the new photographs, the true origin of the river is found some 600 meters west in a stream in the Apacheta ravine, which is fed from a mountain called Nevado Quehuisha.
Satellite photographs are one source of proof, but scientists use many criteria to determine the origins of rivers, Palkiewicz emphasised. These include the volume of water flow, longitudinal steepness of the river channel, size of the basin, the flow’s transversal cut, and the morphology of the terrain.
“The Apacheta spring—which later turns into the Apurímac river, heads through Ucayali and then enters Amazonas—meets all of these criteria. National Geographic only took into account the longitudinal steepness, which now can also be shown to be incorrect,” he said.
In fact, the Geographical Society of Lima has backed Palkiewicz’s claims ever since he presented his preliminary results over a decade ago, and has never formally recognised any other theory on the origin of the Amazon.