Unraveling the Mystery: Delving into the Astonishing Phenomenon of Blood Falls in Antarctica

Blood Falls is a blood-red waterfall in Antarctica.

Blood Falls: Unveiling the Astonishing Natural Marvel in Antarctica - Amazing Nature

Antarctica is bleeding. Not only are its glaciers melting because of global warming. There is also Blood Falls – a waterfall where red-colored water seeps out from the glacial ice.

Blood Falls: Unveiling the Astonishing Natural Marvel in Antarctica - Amazing Nature

With the mystery of the red color solved some questions remain. Where does the water come from? Where does the iron come from? And why is the water not frozen, even though the average temperature in the area is -17° Celsius (1.4° Fahrenheit)?

Blood Falls: Unveiling the Astonishing Natural Marvel in Antarctica - Amazing Nature

Photo: National Science Foundation/Peter Rejcek

Blood Falls flows out of the mouth of Taylor Glacier, but it does not consist of melt water from the glacier as one might think. Instead, the water comes from an ancient lake that was formed 5 millions years ago by ocean water that flooded East Antarctica. Two millions years ago, glaciers were formed over the lake, trapping it underneath.

Blood Falls: Unveiling the Astonishing Natural Marvel in Antarctica - Amazing Nature

When the water on the surface of the subglacial lake began to freeze, the salt concentration in the remaining water became higher and higher. Today, the water is three times as salty as the ocean, which means that it does not freeze despite temperatures dipping below 0° Celsius (32° Fahrenheit).

Blood Falls: Unveiling the Astonishing Natural Marvel in Antarctica - Amazing Nature

The iron in the water is thought to come from particles that enters the lake through the scraping motion of Taylor Glacier – iron is common in the Antarctic bedrock. Also, microbes that feed on iron and sulfur live here. These are thought to add iron to the water as they erode the iron-rich bedrock around the lake.

Blood Falls: Unveiling the Astonishing Natural Marvel in Antarctica - Amazing Nature

Photo: National Science Foundation/Peter Rejcek

In 2017, researchers revealed the answer to how water from the subglacial lake can be transported through the glacier. With the help of radar scanning, they found a network of subglacial rivers flowing through cracks in the glacier. The salty water from the source lake has a freezing point lower than the glacier and releases heat when it freezes – something called latent heat. The source water that comes into contact with the glacier freezes, while the latent heat melts the glacial ice, enabling rivers to flow.

Blood Falls: Unveiling the Astonishing Natural Marvel in Antarctica - Amazing Nature

Since some of the source water have frozen on the way through the glacier, the water that reaches the glacier’s mouth has an even higher concentration of salt and iron. The presence of salt also increases the rate of the reaction between iron and oxygen, making Blood Falls even redder.

Blood Falls: Unveiling the Astonishing Natural Marvel in Antarctica - Amazing Nature

Photo: Jill Mikucki/University of Tennessee Knoxville

Blood Falls flows out onto a frozen lake in Taylor Valley, which is one of the McMurdo Dry Valleys – a series of valleys in Antarctica which despite the cold temperatures are ice-free due to the area’s dry weather.

Related Posts

Amazon Rainforest Mystery: Tree with ‘Super-Sized’ Leaves Newly Discovered

A massive, human-sized leaf has been on display at the National Institute of Amazonian Research (INPA) in Manaus, Brazil, for decades, becoming a kind of local attraction. However, the complete identity of the tree it belongs to has remained a mystery …

Read more

Hawaii’s Fiery Giant: Dramatic Photo Reveals 65-Foot-Tall Lava Dome

Although lava domes are pretty common, symmetrical ones are extremely rare. The chances are you haven’t seen one yet – until now. The Mauna Ulu eruption of Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii With lasted a whopping 1,774 days, that is, almost five years. At the …

Read more

Nature’s Masterpiece: The ‘Symphony of the Stones’ in Armenia Resembles a Giant Organ

Situated near the Armenian capital, this amazing natural formation looks as if the gods wanted to play music. Image credit: Vahag851 23 km east of Yerevan, Armenia, just below the village of the same name, lies the breathtaking Garni Gorge, …

Read more

Secrets of the Ice Cavern: An Ancient Forest Lies Beneath This Stunning Ice Formation

Situated in Southeast Alaska is the 13.6 mile-long Mendenhall Glacier which is one of the most scenic places in the state. The glacier is also home to various ice caves where an ancient forest was revealed in the last decade, due to the melting ice. Magical …

Read more

Climate Change Revives 60-Million-Year-Old Prehistoric Plant: A Scientific Marvel

For the first time in 60m years, an ancient plant has produced male and female cones in Britain outdoors. Botanists say this is a sign of global warming. 60 million years ago, the Cycad plant, or Sago palm (Cycas revoluta) grew naturally in the UK. For …

Read more

Mystical Beauty: Portugal’s Water Hole That Looks Like a Gateway to Another World

While it may look like a natural phenomenon, this watery sinkhole is anything but. Named Covão do Conchos it is regarded as one of Portugal’s top secret attractions. The mesmerising whirlpool, which has been caught in high definition by a …

Read more

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *