[Photo] Antartica’s Blood Falls

The Blood Falls in Antarctica, falling from the Taylor Glacier into Lake Bonney. Tent provided for size comparison. (Peter Rejcek / National Science Foundation)

The Blood Falls in Antarctica, falling from the Taylor Glacier into Lake Bonney. Tent  included for size comparison. (Peter Rejcek / National Science Foundation)

Discovered in 1911 by explorer Griffith Taylor, Antarctica’s Blood Falls are a unique and fascinating natural phenomenon. The distinctive red stain of the Taylor Glacier is caused by iron deposits in the source water, a saltwater lake trapped deep beneath the glacier; the iron oxidizes when it contacts air. But what’s even more interesting is the role of iron in this underground lake: sustaining microbial life.

For almost two million years, a number of strains of microbes have adapted to living without air or light, actively cycling iron, sulfur and carbon. No photosynthesis, no oxygen. That’s certainly pushing the limits of what we knew to be possible!

For more information, check out the National Science Foundation’s press release.

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