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What Huelva and Jupiter have in common
24 June 2021 @ 17:53

Originating in Nerva a town nestled in the Sierra of the Huelva mountains in Andalusia, Spain’s Rio Tinto runs through the southwestern region of the country. For approximately five thousand years, copper, gold, silver and other minerals have been mined along the river, with dissolving iron giving it a strange reddish hue and hence its name, the "Red River".



The Rio Tinto is often considered the birthplace of both the Copper Age and Bronze Age. The Iberians and Tartessians in the area began mining the river in 3000 BCE, followed by the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Visigoths, and Moors. For hundreds of years, the river’s mines were abandoned until rediscovered by the Spanish authorities in 1724 and it once again put back in operation.

After massive excavations and digging by companies from the United Kingdom during the 19th century, the river became extremely dangerous for people due to the high acidity level. Later the multinational Rio Tinto Company was formed to operate the mines. Rio Tinto no longer manages the river, but by the end of the 20th century, it had become one of the world’s largest mining companies.



The high acidity keeps people away from the waters but draws scientists in. Extremophile aerobic bacteria in the water provide conditions similar to those found in other areas of the solar system. Jupiter’s moon Europa, for example, is thought to contain an acidic ocean underneath its surface. Life in the Rio Tinto such as bacteria feeds on iron and sulfide minerals in the river’s subsurface rocks, making the likelihood of life on Europa all the more possible.



If you want to live a unique experience, do not hesitate to go for a ride on the authentic 19th-century railway. It is a restored locomotive and wagons that follow the original route of the past. The Rio Tinto Mining Park consists of a complete tour that includes access to the museum, a guided tour of an underground mine and open-pit mine, and finally the ride on the authentic mine train. A visit that you cannot miss if you travel to the province of Huelva.



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