Source: http://bit.ly/1Hwm3lD Photographer: Peter Rejcek Public Domain Image
Blood Falls Facts
- The astounding natural site known misleadingly as Blood Falls easily forms an extraordinarily unique wonder of Nature. Despite appearances, the incredible feature of geology actually represents an amazing outpouring of melting salt water.
- To the continual surprise of many people, this intriguing trickle of water very slowly flows out from a point on the Taylor Glacier. From there, the remarkable wonder of Nature pours continuously onto the frozen surface of West Lake Bonney.
- This truly impressive glacier itself further lies in what now bears the name of the McMurdo Dry Valleys. This location in turn sits in the eastern section of Antarctica. This feature remains quite famous for its constant blood red color.
- The distinctiveness of this unique feature doesn’t simply end there, though. That’s due to the fact that the same processes which form this wonder of Nature also serve to make Blood Falls of extraordinary interest to many microbiologists.
- Amazingly, this flow also continues to be of relatively great interest to astrobiologists around the world, as well. These experts study it as a means of evaluating the possibility of life’s existence in harsh environments on other planets.
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Blood Falls Natural Formation
Most notably, the remarkable Blood Falls boasts a truly unique and distinctive geochemistry. The site also remains the only site of its kind known to exist. That holds true due to the fact that the formation actually constitutes an outpouring of iron-rich, hyper-saline water.
This water additionally flows from small fractures laced throughout the many layers of ice. But its unique chemical composition does not represent the only surprising aspect of the site. That’s because a large sub-glacial pool actually serves as the source of the water.
This collection of water also lies beneath 1,300 ft (400 m) of ice. It’s worth noting that this pool also sits about 2 mi (3.2 km) from the point where it emerges from the ice. The precise size of the pool that spawns the impressive Blood Falls also remains undetermined.
Beneath the glacier, and between it and the underlying rock layer, sits a region of brine. This brine possesses such a high saline level that it has remained liquid. Extremely high concentrations of ferric oxide within the deposit further create a unique color.
Source: http://bit.ly/19hut56 Image Credit: Michael Studinger, NASA Public Domain Image
Blood Falls Microbial Ecosystem
Perhaps most surprisingly on of all, due to its inherently unique development, a marvelous condition exists. That’s due to the fact that Blood Falls also contains an incredible ecosystem of its own. Within its depths, forms of autotrophic bacteria evolved.
Quite amazingly, those actually metabolize specific ferric materials and sulfates for their nourishment. In simple language, these bacteria essentially consume iron! A detailed scientific analysis of the water of the falls additionally reveals yet another startling fact.
That’s because any such analysis immediately reveals that the water contains a total of at least 17 different species of microbes. That’s an astounding variety given the conditions. Not only that, but the remarkabale liquid also contains virtually no oxygen.
Perhaps due to this fact, these microbes utilize sulfates as a catalyst for respiration. The site known as Blood Falls truly stands out for this reason. It represents the only known place on earth where a form of life utilizing this metabolic process has been discovered.
The isolated but absolutely amazing location presents scientists with the ability to study such a unique ecosystem. And Nature made it comparatively easy for them. To the utter delight of researchers, this thankfully occurs without the need to drill down to it.
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