Sunday, 31 July 2011

Science & Places: Blood Falls, Antarctica

Blood Falls, November 2006, by Peter Rejcek for the National Science Foundation 
Located between Taylor Glacier and Lake Bonney in the Antarctic, Blood Falls contains a naturally occurring phenomenon, which makes it look as though the glacier is bleeding. Scientists believe that this sanguine effect is caused by a sub-glacial brine reservoir, as it contains iron that, when exposed to oxygen, becomes the dark red colour seen at the Falls. 

 Blood Falls, by the American Society for Microbiology, 2007
Whilst the crimson colour is quite striking, even more intriguing is that the organisms beneath the glacier can survive entirely without oxygen. This not only makes them extremely unusual, but it could also help to build a case for the existence of extraterrestrial lifeforms in other sub-glacial environments such as the Moon and Mars.


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