Thursday, August 11, 2011

Blood Fall in Antarctica

Do you see the red liquid flowing out of the Taylor Glacier in Antarctida? The color is obtained due to a high amount of iron oxide in the water.


Salty water rich in iron leaves a small fissure at the Taylor Glacier. The Blood Waterfall takes its water from a nearby lake covered with a layer of ice which is 400 meters deep.


The lake appeared in the result of sea water retroversion and covering the place with ice 4-1.5 million years ago. That time the level of the world ocean was much higher than it is now.


Salt content in the water 4 times exceeds the one in the ocean. That's why the water in the fall never freezes even if the temperature is below 10 degrees Celsius.


This beautiful waterfall was discovered in 1911. First researchers in Antarctica thought the color was obtained due to red alga and found out the true reason later. Iron oxide in the water is a result of metabolism observed in unique microorganisms. Having analyzed chemical composition of the water scientists could prove that the lake is inhabited by organisms which are supplied with vital energy by reconstructing sulfites from sulphates with their subsequent oxidation by ions of trivalents iron entering the water from the mud line.


Bivalent iron ions which form the final product of bacterial metabolism and leave the fissure at the Taylor Glacier are combined with oxygen producing the red color. The unique ecosystem allows to believe that it's possible to preserve life under similar conditions on other planets covered with ice as well.


Video is not available yet as not many tourists visit the place and the waterfall appears only from time to time.