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Pantanal - Geography:

Map of the Pantanal

The Pantanal is located in the heart of the South American continent and is part of the vast upper Paraguay River basin.

It is a gently sloping plain, from the higher parts of the northeast to its lowest in the west and southwest.

Its geographic formation, with an average altitude of below 100 m, is the result of the large concave pre-Andean depression of the earth’s crust, related to the Andean orogenic movements of the Terciary period.

The Pantanal constitutes a huge internal delta of rivers that during the annual flood become interconnected. The flooding occurs in accordance with the rainy season between December and March when the marsh receives water from the highlands surrounding it, especially from those in the North and Northeast. Due to the low slope of the plain in both north-south and east-west directions, the waters that enter the heads of the Paraguay River take months to make it across the entire Pantanal. As the water flow is slow and the altitude of the basin is extremely low, the result is the typical annual periodic flooding of the Pantanal.

During the rainy season when the rivers overflow, large amounts of natural sediment are brought in by the waters. When, after the retreat of the waters, the soil dries, these sediments serve as a highly nutritious fertilizer to the soil, causing an explosion of new life at the changing of seasons. The water cycle thus forms the fundamental basis for the abundant flora and fauna in the Pantanal and in addition helps to preserve its environment by inhibiting the invasion by man.