Why the source of the Amazon remains a mystery

Why the source of the Amazon river remains a mystery

The Nanay, an Amazon tributary (Credit: John Warburton-Lee Photography/Alamy Stock Photo)

Big rivers begin as many tiny streams, but figuring out which of those tributaries deserves to be called the source of the river is fraught with difficulties

  • By Shreya Dasgupta

We all know a river when we see one. These braided or meandering systems can be among the most beautiful – and potent – features of the natural world.

But powerful rivers have humble origins.

Textbooks tell us that rivers start somewhere high up in the mountains. When rain falls, snow melts, or underground springs rise up, the water starts collecting in tiny creeks that flow downhill. Several tiny creeks join together to form larger streams, and numerous streams interweave and converge to form even larger rivers. Read more.