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Decoding the mystery of Blood Falls in Antarctica

Around the white color at the South Pole, a river of blood appears

By Culture DiscoveryPublished 2 months ago 3 min read
Decoding the mystery of Blood Falls in Antarctica

In 1911, British geologist Griffith Taylor accidentally discovered a glacial valley in East Antarctica with water flowing out as red as blood. The contrast between the blue-white color of the ice and the blood-red color of the water makes the waterfall look like a monster sealed in ice.

For more than a century, the phenomenon that Mr. Taylor calls “Blood waterfall” has aroused the curiosity of scientists and lovers of mysterious places around the world.

In 2017, a research team using ground-penetrating radar discovered a network of cracks of different sizes on the ice, forming a water tower buried salty. This supplied water to the waterfall at the snout of the glacier.

High salt concentrations combined with pressure at the base of the glacier keep the water flowing, despite temperatures dropping to sub zero degrees Celsius. The causes of the sudden color change remain a mystery.

Other studies carried out in the 1960s claimed to find only tiny traces of minerals in water samples from the glacier below the Blood Falls. This is not enough to explain the phenomenon of why water is red.

Another theory is that the red color of the "blood waterfall" is related to the mass increase of red ice algae in the glacier. But even if experts find carbon footprints, there is no type of algae that causes this phenomenon.

Around the white color at the South Pole, a river of blood appears

Until 2023, according to an article published in the magazineFrontiers in Astronomy and Space Science, a group ofResearchers led by the University of Alaska Fairbanks and Colorado College have solved the mystery of the Blood Falls using a combination of modern analytical techniques.

Researchers have discovered microscopic nanospheres floating in water. In-depth chemical analysis using X-rays later showed that these particles contained molecules of iron, silica, calcium, aluminum, salt and other elements.

Previous studies have missed these nanoparticles, because they are very small and do not have a crystalline structure. Most standard analytical methods previously used by mineralogists ignored such amorphous materials.

Nano iron salt molecules ooze out of the glacier and oxidize to a red color when exposed to air for a long time. This explains the blood-red color of the waterfall we see today.

Although the waterfall is located in a remote, isolated and dangerous area. But every year there are still many tourists coming to visit Blood Falls. The closest possible route is by departing from Chile and Argentina. These two countries are the most popular starting points for those wanting to embark on an Antarctic expedition.

In the summer, temperatures in Antarctica are warmer, which gives lake water a chance to rise. That's why we see"Blood Falls" . The strangeness continues until today.

Glaciologist Erin Petit added: "With equipment that "listens" for echoes from the lake below the 400m thick ice sheet, just like bats use their ears to "see" things in the dark, we "see" what happens in this saltwater lake. .

It's incredible to discover a lake of liquid water that exists beneath a thick layer of sub-zero ice. Interestingly, the lake containing this iron is extremely salty, making it impossible to freeze. And that liquid water lake becomes an ecological environment for species ancient autotrophic bacteria live. Bacteria can live in water that is extremely salty and extremely cold, has extremely high iron concentrations, and is oblivious to sunlight. It turns out that they have such strong vitality, careful study of these microorganisms will be able to give us ways to cope with extremely harsh environments, for example in the Universe."

"The first discovery led us to many more discoveries and many more explanations,"said researcher Martin. "Antarctic girl still hasn't revealed all the secrets she's been hiding."


About the Creator

Culture Discovery

Mysterious things are always an attractive topic and stimulate people's curiosity. From unexplained supernatural phenomena, mysterious ancient relics, to mysterious and dark stories the world is full of mysteries waiting to be discovered.

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