Apr 28, 2017
Science solves mystery of Antarctica's creepy Blood Falls
A wound-like gash that spurts red liquid out of a glacier has puzzled scientists since its discovery more than a century ago.
An Australian geologist stumbled upon the Antarctic waterfall in 1911 and put forward the theory that the "blood" was just water that had been stained by microscopic red algae.
This explanation was overturned in 2003, when researchers concluded that oxidized iron was giving the water spilling from the Taylor Glacier its rusty tinge.
They believed it was the last drops of an ancient salt-water lake that formed 5 million years ago.
But now a study by the University of Alaska Fairbanks and Colorado College reveals that Blood Falls is flowing from a large lake that has been trapped under the ice for 1 million years.
Using echolocation technology, they were able to "see" how water flowed under the Taylor Glacier.
"We moved the antennae around the glacier in grid-like patterns so that we could 'see' what was underneath us inside the ice, kind of like a bat uses echolocation to 'see' things around it," said study co-author Christina Carr.
They were shocked to find that the lake hadn't frozen despite being entombed in ice for so long.
This discovery confirms that the glacier has its own water system.
Water releases heat as it freezes and that heat warms the surrounding ice, which means that a supply of constantly flowing water must be running through to Blood Falls.
This should ensure that the waterfall spills more "blood" in the coming years thanks to the million-year-old pool of water.
The Antarctic is home to several mysteries and has sparked several conspiracy theories.
The huge continent is currently only inhabited by scientific researchers and penguins thanks to its freezing temperatures.
But "truthers" believe that there is a secret city that has frozen over — and it could even be the lost city of Atlantis.
What is Blood Falls?
- Blood Falls is a waterfall bursting from the Taylor Glacier in McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica, which was spotted in 1911 by Australian geologist Griffith Taylor.
- Scientists initially believed it got its blood-red hue from algae living in the water.
- It wasn't until 2003 when researchers concluded that the liquid was full of iron oxide, and was likely the remains of a 5 million-year-old lake.
- But now a study shows that the red water is continually flowing thanks to a rare hydraulic system that may have been flowing for 1 million years.
- Water releases heat energy as it freezes, and this is enough to melt surrounding ice enough to turn it to liquid.
- This process allows the water to flow from Blood Falls.
New York Post
by Margi Murphy, The Sun