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Unique Blood-Colored Waterfall of Antarctica

4 years ago194 views

GeoBeats

Geo Beats

Back in 1911, an Australian geologist came across a unique sight: blood-red water running over a 5-story waterfall in the middle of a frozen desert. Scientists have since found that its bizarre color isn’t its only surprising feature.

Antarctica is full of natural wonders.


Back in 1911, an Australian geologist working in Antarctica came across a unique sight: a 5-story blood-red waterfall in the middle of a frozen desert. Scientists have since found that its bizarre color isn’t its only surprising feature.

In the windy McMurdo Dry Valley of Antarctica, the waterfall now called Blood Falls spills from a crack in Taylor Glacier and into Lake Bonney. The water source is an ancient subglacial lake trapped a quarter mile beneath the ground. The water has three times the amount of salt than seawater, making it unable to freeze.

Since the water source also contains no oxygen, but is very high in iron, it rusts and turns the blood red color upon coming into contact with air as it pours out the crack.

After analyzing water samples for 6 years, scientists discovered 17 types of microorganisms still living in that subglacial lake. According to a 2009 report in ScienceNow, researchers theorize that “the organisms use sulfate as a catalyst to ‘breathe’ with ferric iron and metabolize the limited amounts of organic matter trapped with them years ago.”

If you’d like to visit Blood Falls in person, you can either catch a helicopter from the area’s Antarctic research stations or a cruise ship heading towards the Ross Sea.

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