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Scientists Have Solved The Mystery Behind Antarctica’s Blood Falls

Posted April 28
Updated May 1

Near the bottom of the world sits a gruesome sight. The Blood Falls of Antarctica look more like a horror movie set than a natural wonder. Red liquid pours out of a crack in a massive glacier on the continent. One look at the image and you’d swear the world bleeds.

A 100-Year-Old Mystery

Back in 1911, geologist Griffith Taylor discovered Blood Falls spilling into Lake Bonney in Antarctica. The glacier where the falls flow from were named after Taylor after his discovery.

For years, scientists marveled at the natural wonder and puzzled over the source of the blood-red liquid. Early studies pointed toward algae as the source of the water’s color.

However, it would take more than 100 years to get a clear answer on the glacier’s waterfall.

Scientist Jill Mikucki brought a team down to Antarctic to study Blood Falls in 2004. The team analyzed liquid from the falls and found something incredible.

The water held a “community of microorganisms” from a reservoir several times saltier than the seawater. These microorganisms use sulfate for their respiration.

Once the super-salty water hits the surface, its chemistry changes in the sulfate and changes its color. As a result, the liquid gets its notorious red color. The journal “Science” published Mikucki’s findings in 2009.

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