Antarctica’s Blood Falls Receives An Explanation, Dispels The Mystery?

blood falls

For over a century, the Blood Falls waterfall has continued to intrigue with its crimson waters.

 

One of the most incredible features of the Antarctic continent is the so-called “Blood Falls”. For over a century, this waterfall’s bright red flow of water has surprised and unnerved both explorers and scientists. Now, through an understanding of where and how it flows, they may get a clearer glimpse of how glaciers melt, all thanks to a new study.

Blood Falls May Help Understand Glaciers

Discovered during a 1911 expedition by geologist Thomas Griffith Taylor, the Blood Falls still gush forth with a crimson color to this day. More recent expeditions determined that this is due to a high content of iron oxide in the water. Just as with the soil on Mars, rust makes the water red.Explorers could never find the source or reason for this water and its color. In 2015, a group of scientists speculated that a network of briny rivers and streams flowed through the ice of Antarctica. In a follow-up work, the team mapped this flow through the Taylor glacier.

They found the trail of the Blood Falls, as well as a large number of other surprising features. Research results were recently published in the Journal of Glaciology.
“We knew that there was a brine outflow creating the falls […]” said Jessica Badgeley, lead author of the study. “The mystery that remained was the link between that source and the outflow.”

Badgeley also pointed out the unusual nature of this features. She stated that there are “very few things like it”. This also made it harder to find the source of the brine. Or to determine how it traveled from under the glacier up to the surface.

Another very interesting part of their discoveries is that liquid water can exist within a frozen glacier at all. This was previously considered and seen as impossible. Still, the saltier water freezes at lower temperatures. As such, it can apparently carve a path all the way to the sea.

Image Source: Wikimedia

About Carol Harper

Carol Harper began her career as a screenwriter before turning to journalism. Before earning her Bachelor of Arts with a major in Creative Writing, Carol travelled across Europe and Asia to find both herself and inspiration. She enjoys covering health & science topics.