The Santa River is a river in the South American Andes cordillera in the Ancash Region of northwest central Peru.
Laguna Conococha, at an altitude of 4050 m above sea level and at , is considered the headwaters of the Rio Santa. Laguna Conococha itself is fed by small streams from the Cordillera Negra in the west and the snowcapped Cordillera Blanca in the east. The main tributary of the lake is Rio Tuco which has its source in Laguna Tuco circa 5,000 m above sea level at one of the glacier tongues of Nevado de Tuco.
The Santa River emerges from Laguna Conococha and for 200 km runs in a northerly direction between the Cordillera Negra in the west and the Cordillera Blanca in the east, forming the fertile Callejon de Huaylas. At 2,000 m above seal level the river changes its course to a westerly direction, squeezing through the narrow gorge of Canon del Pato ("Duck's Canyon") before it finally breaks through the coastal ridges.
During the dry season from June to November, the Santa River provides only a little water for irrigation, drinking water and hydroelectric power. A couple of water reservoirs have been established to control the fluctuation of the river. Upstream of the hydroelectric power plant of Huallanca, the Rio Santa watershed covers an area of 4,900 km, downstream another 7,300 km.
The river's mouth, after the river runs a total length of 347 km, is at near Santa, 10 km north of the coastal town of Chimbote. In 1984, gold dust was discovered in the mouth of Rio Santa which caused a regional gold fever among the rural population.
For most of its course, the Santa River is accompanied by a paved road.
From Lago Conococha to the river mouth, towns along the river are:
0 km Conococha
62 km Recuay
88 km Huaraz
126 km Carhuaz
153 km Yungay, Peru
163 km Caraz
205 km Huallanca
215 km Yuramarca
343 km Santa (Peru) (20 m)
The Santa Valley has always experienced severe disasters. Beginning in 1702 when a glaciological flood is first recorded, the valley has repeatedly suffered deaths and destruction. In 1941, a flood destroyed one-third of Huaraz, killing 5,000 to 7,000 people. In 1962, a massive avalanche of ice and rocks tumbled down from the western slopes of Huascaran and then roared down the river valley. The Santa River rose by eight metres and 3,000 to 4,000 people were killed in the catastrophe. Devastating landslides ("aluviones") like these will aways threaten the region, when falling glacial ice triggers sudden drainages of ice-dammed lakes in the mountainous region and liquid mud, blocks of ice and large rock boulders crash down the narrow valleys.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Santa River