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Incredible NASA Photo Shows 'Rivers Of Gold' In Peru

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Incredible NASA Photo Shows 'Rivers Of Gold' In Peru

An incredible photo has been released, which appears to show 'rivers of gold' streaking across Peru.

The image was taken by NASA on 24 December last year, and while on the surface it looks quite pleasing to the eye, it holds a much more sinister truth.

According to the space agency, the vast markings show the devastation believed to have been caused by illegal gold mining in the Peruvian department of Madre de Dios (Mother of God).

The snap was taken by an astronaut on board NASA's Expedition 64, using a Nikon D5 digital camera and is the result of a combination of sunlight and the favourable meteorological conditions when the photo was taken.

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Usually, the gold pits are hidden from view from the International Space Station due to cloud covering.

However, a spokesperson for NASA's Earth Observatory said: "In this very wet climate, the prospecting pits appear as hundreds of tightly packed water-filled basins.

The photo appears to show rivers of gold running through Peru. Credit: NASA
The photo appears to show rivers of gold running through Peru. Credit: NASA

"Likely dug by garimperos (independent miners), each pit is surrounded by de-vegetated areas of muddy spoil'.

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"These deforested tracts follow the courses of ancient rivers that deposited sediments, including gold. For scale, the western tract at image center is 15 kilometers (10 miles) long."

The spokesperson added: "Mining is the main cause of deforestation in the region, and it also can cause mercury pollution from the gold-extraction process.

"Yet tens of thousands of people earn their living from this unregistered mining."

In the photo, the town Nueva Arequipa is visible, sitting between two huge mining tracts on the Southern Interoceanic Highway, which connects Peru with Brazil.

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When it was opened back in 2011, the idea was that it would give a huge economic boost to the region, bringing in tourism and trade.

However, it has also aided surface mining, and, as a result, led to an increase in deforestation.

Peru is one of the largest gold producers in the world. Credit: PA
Peru is one of the largest gold producers in the world. Credit: PA

According to NASA, Peru is the sixth largest exporter of gold in the world, with China the most prolific.

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In December last year, scientists revealed deforestation in the Amazon rainforest has reached a 12-year high.

Brazil's space agency INPE (the National Institute for Space Research) led the report, which stated that a total of 11,088 sq km (4,281 sq miles) of rainforest were destroyed from August 2019 to July 2020. This is a 9.5 percent increase from the previous year.

Scientists pointed to the presidency of Jair Bolsonaro as a reason for the increased rate of deforestation.

The leader, who came to power in January 2019, has failed to give the rainforest the protections of previous administrations, instead encouraging agricultural and mining activities in the area.

Featured Image Credit: NASA

Topics: Peru, World News, south america, Gold, crime, Nasa, Brazil

Dominic Smithers
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