Blood Falls in Antarctica? Scientists Have Solved The Mystery of Flowing Red Water Decades Later
Mystery of Blood Falls in Antarctica is solved (Photo credits: Twitter/stanfordjose)
Antartica holds a repute for being so white covered with sheets of ice all over. So when you have a spot with blood like water flowing in the middle of it, it is bound to shock. In the year 1911, an Australian explorer named Griffith Taylor discovered the Blood Falls during an expedition. But what was causing the water to turn blood red was not known. Scientists had been working on finding its origin and cause. But decades later, thanks to a research by the University of Alaska Fairbanks, the origin and cause of the blood red water in white icy landscapes is known.
Earlier scientists speculated it was the algae which were discolouring the water but this hypothesis was not tested. Now the actual reason for this red colour is known. The deep red water is due to the oxidized iron in brine saltwater. We see that iron turns red when it rusts. So when the iron-bearing saltwater comes into contact with the oxygen, the iron oxidised and the water turns red to the effect. Hidden Mountain Valleys Discovered Under Ice in Antarctica.
But there was still one more question unanswered about the source of this brine water. One of the scientists Erin Petit trekked to the Taylor glacier along with measurements using a radio-wave sensor. The research team used radio-echo sounding (RES) to study the features below the glacier. They found a brine lake underneath the Taylor Glacier. So the water picks up the iron from the bedrock, as due to the pressures from the overlying glacier, it gets injected through fissures. In such extremely low temperatures, the water would turn into ice, but due to some factors, like latent heat and saturated salt, higher pressures below the glacier, enable it to stay liquid. Trees on Mars? Vegetation in Antarctica Prompts Ideas of Growing Greens on The Red Planet.
The team also found out that the Blood Falls have some microbes that can survive in the extreme conditions. It puts some light into the formation of life on the planet before oxygen was present in the atmosphere. So the red blood water in the white sheets of ice is not any nature's oddity but now have a scientific backing.