The Antarctica Blood Falls mystery has been solved after 100 years of trying, a group of scientists claim. The Taylor Glacier stretches for 34 miles. Its flowing water boasts a distinctly blood red hue.
The Blood Falls get their eerie red color from rich deposits of iron in the salty water that flows into West Lake Bonney, a new study just released from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and Colorado College claims. Taylor Glacier was discovered by Australian geologist Griffith Taylor in 1911.
— Discover Magazine (@DiscoverMag) April 27, 2017
Griffith Taylor thought the Blood Falls got its color from the presence of algae in the water. Taylor’s theory about the Antarctica mystery was on its way to being debunked in 2003. Scientific researchers began investigating the water pulled from West Lake Bonney. The lake is about five million years old. The researchers found the flowing water from Taylor Glacier would turn blood red when the iron content in the fluid made contact with the air.
The Antarctica Blood Falls not only has an ancient lake under it, it also possesses its own brine water system. The unique system is believed to have been in active existence for at least one million years. The new study by the University of Alaska Fairbanks and Colorado College not only appears to have solved the Blood Falls mystery, but also destroyed a long-standing theory about water in arctic climates.
Blood Falls flowing Bright Red Water in Antarctica
“While it sounds counterintuitive, water releases heat as it freezes, and that heat warms the surrounding colder ice,” Jessica Badgeley, the lead author of the study, said. “Taylor Glacier is now the coldest known glacier to have persistently flowing water.”
The researches maintain their work is proof flowing water can exist in a frozen glacier. The ability for water to flow in Antarctica may be exclusive to Taylor Glacier or at least to frozen bodies of ice which the same unique makeup. The high levels of salt in the water means a lower freezing temperature is required in order to prevent an ongoing flow of water.
— Science (@scienmag) April 29, 2017
To solve the Blood Falls mystery the researchers utilized a new type of radar which allowed them to effectively follow the flow of water from Taylor Glacier. The water flows along a 300-foot long path from under the glacier to the water fall, Eureka Alert reported.
The team of scientists used the radio-echo sounding radar to track the brine water. The radar uses two antenna to accomplish such a task. One antenna transmits electrical pulses while tracking and the other antenna receives the signals.
“Taylor Glacier is now the coldest known glacier to have persistently flowing water,” University of Alaska Fairbanks study co-author and doctoral student Christina Carr, said. “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.”
Blood Falls Facts
- Taylor Glacier is located in the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica.
- The Dry Valleys of Antarctica are known as one of the most hostile natural environments on the entire planet.
- Blood Falls is believed to be almost completely devoid of oxygen.
- Despite the harsh environment about 17 different types of microbes are known to call the Blood Falls home.
- Taylor Glacier is five stories tall.
Do you think the Blood Falls mystery has finally been solved?
[Featured Image by Stu Shaw/Shutterstock]