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Remember the Rainforest 1

 

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especially on the diamond-producing formation which, as in the Diamond District of Minas Gerais, was destroyed by catastrophes that occurred extensively and which seem to have left loose the precious stones and the gold that appear on the ground.

Far, in the eastern direction, flows the watershed of the Amazon Basin over plateaus and mountains still little known, from which the crystalline springs of the Xingu river emerge. In the upper region of this beautiful river, the vast gold mines of the Martirios, which are said to have been seen by the first discoverer of Goias, Bartolomeu Bueno, a priest, however, who has since been subtracted from the lists of subsequent fortune hunters. To the east of the Xingu, is still the mighty Tocantins, whose flow forms the main part of the Amazon Basin. The most southerly springs of its main western arm, the Araguaia, probably comes from a land, whose disposition corresponds to the fields of the Parecis; to the south and southeast, however, is where the other sources of the Tocantins are born from the not very considerable mountain chain of Goyas.

Mountain ranges of Goyaz

This chain, whose most important peaks are the Serra da Sejada and the picturesque Montes Pirineus, belongs to the system of mountains which, with its western ramifications, the Amambai Range, starting on the eastern bank of the Paraguay, run to the northeast, to the middle of the Serra das Vertentes, to the opulent mountains of Vila Rica, where Itacolumi,

Itacolumi

as the highest peak, connects the granite mountain range, the Serra do Mar, and the abundant mountains of gold and quartz, Serra of Mantiqueira or Serra do Espinhao, as Mr. von Eschwege called it, the principal mountain range of Minas Gerais. The system forms the watershed between the three largest river basins in Brazil, Amazonas, Paraguay and Sao Francisco River. This last group of mountains, which, in the third and fourth decades of the preceding century, provided an almost incredible golden yield, is the most eastern dividing point of the Amazon Basin, to which the waters are carried by the Tocantins.

Another little known water divider, rising sometimes in abrupt mountains, sometimes in plateaus with a gentle ramp, runs from the pinnacles of Goias to the north, separating the Tocantins Basin from the Sao Francisco River, the Parnaiba River, and the coastal rivers, from the most northern provinces of Brazil. From the south-west, the ramification, well named by Mr. von Eschwege,

Serra das Vertentes

as Serra das Vertentes, stands out because there are many arms to the south, to the Parana River system.

The veined granite, or syenite predominates, over a thick layer of

Quartzite

quartzite peaks with stoneware towers and magnetite.

Magmatite

Especially on the northern slopes, in the craters of the valleys full of mud, are accumulations of saltpeter,

Saltpeter

and finally, the elevation of the terrain, generally from 2,800 to 3,500 feet, even on the levels where the paths pass, characterizes this part as resembling the mountain system of Minas Gerais.

Here, I have tried to mark the extreme limits of the watershed, which determine the Amazon Basin, in the south and east direction.

They occur to a small part in the south, where they pass through the region of the Republic of Bolivia, only within the borders of Brazil, and in this territory exclude even a relatively small region (a part of La Plata and Sao Francisco rivers). If we consider more rigorously this enormous part of the whole of the river basin, it seems formed by the basins of the Madeira, Tapajos, Xingu, Tocantins rivers and the smaller intermediary rivers, which run parallel to each other, from south to north, for the most deep river-master. The formation of the terrain of this partial basin may also give rise to an observation, which we have already indicated above. Although small in elevation in the terrain of all these river basins, and so weakly inclined are the plains to the north, it is found, however, that a terraced slope runs in the southwest to north-easterly direction, through all the immense region of these gathered basins. The lowering of the land is even visible in the course of the rivers, the stone banks and rocks, which now

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