You might have heard about waterfalls, but have you heard about blood falls? Yes, as creepy and scary as it sounds, blood falls isn’t blood falling from a cliff. Blood falls is situated in Antarctica, the ice-covered continent of the earth. While many researchers are keen on researching and preventing this ice-covered continent, some of them found out that this blood-red colour waterfall has no explanation for its colour. Antarctica is the coldest place on the planet, and the average annual temperature around the Blood Falls is around -17 degrees. This area is located within Victoria Land, west of McMurdo Sound. Now, you might be thinking if we can visit Blood Falls. Well, to answer that, Atlas Obscura has said that Blood Falls can only be reached by helicopter from the McMurdo Station (U.S.).
The colour of the Blood Falls was initially identified as red algae. Now, a study in the Journal of Glaciology has revealed the true origin of Blood Falls with the help of radar to scan the layers of ice from which the river pours. The deep red fall was discovered in the year 1911 when scientists noticed a river that stained the surrounding cliff of ice with a dark red colour. Though the theory behind the red colour was believed to be the effect of algae, thanks to research by the University of Alaska Fairbanks, which revealed the true origin of Blood Falls. The study boils down to describing the red colour of the oxidized iron in brine saltwater, the same process that gives the iron a dark red colour when it rusts.
The research team obtained the glacier using radio-echo sounding to map out the features below the glacier. The super-saturated brine that makes up the river allows the stark density contrast in RES compared to non-saline ice. The research team also calculated that the water approximately takes 1.5 million years to finally reach Blood Falls as it makes its way through fissures and channels in the glacier. You might think that the water would be frozen in place as it sits below a thick layer of ice. However, many aspects allow the water to remain liquid. One of the many aspects is the release of latent heat associated with water freezing, this low amount of heat contributes to keeping the water as a liquid. Furthermore, the water super-saturated with salt freezes at a lower temperature than fresh water.
Another interesting fact is that Blood Falls also contains microbes that can survive in extreme conditions. These microbial communities can live with sulfates in the water. They provide hints on how life could have developed on other plants that lack oxygen. The Blood Falls in Antartica is no less than a miracle. It is full of new discoveries and mysteries. We need to be more careful with our environment, as there are more such amazing things to discover, before destroying them.
Did you know that, there exists a Blood Falls? Let’s discuss the amazing natural phenomenon of Blood Falls in Antartica, that will make you love the nature even more.