NASA Captures Breathtaking Photos Of Amazon’s Golden Rivers

by : Hannah Smith on : 12 Feb 2021 10:54
NASA Captures Breathtaking Photos Of Amazon's Golden RiversNASA

Rare images captured by NASA have revealed rivers of gold running through the Amazon rainforest, but the breathtaking photos have a hidden dark side.

The shots were taken by astronauts on the International Space Station as they passed over South America in December last year, with reflected sunlight illuminating massive streams of gold that would usually be hidden from view.


But rather than discovering a new treasure trove hidden in the jungle, NASA says the ‘rivers’ are actually pits dug by unlicensed gold miners in Peru, revealing for the first time the sheer scale of the destructive illegal gold mining industry in the region.


The pits are located in the Madre de Dios area of southern Peru, where a modern day gold rush has led to massive levels of deforestation and wildlife endangerment in one of the most biodiverse places on the planet, Nature reports. Almost 23,000 acres of rainforest were destroyed through gold mining deforestation in 2018 – an area more than half the size of Washington DC.

What’s more, reports that high levels of mercury used in the region’s mining industry are believed to be poisoning local communities, BBC News reports, with the gold extraction process also responsible for releasing poisonous emissions into rivers and the atmosphere.


Miners have been following the routes of old rivers where ancient deposits of minerals built up over thousands of years, hence the photos appear to show rivers of gold flowing through the Amazon. And while the view of the gold flowing through Peru may be a beautiful sight from space, the reality down on Earth is a very different story.

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Topics: Science, Amazon Rainforest, deforestation, NASA, Peru


BBC News and 1 other
  1. BBC News

    Rare Nasa photos reveal Amazon 'gold rivers'

  2. Nature

    Peru battles the golden curse of Madre de Dios