Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Blood Falls

Blood FallsDiscovered in 1911, Blood Falls is a massive, frozen fountain which - true to its name - appears to be pumping frozen blood! Experts originally believed the color was due to algae, but have now discovered the color is actually due to the fact that microbes, which have evolved independently of life elsewhere on the planet in a sealed environment (without light or oxygen), were "trapped" beneath the surface some 2 million years ago. Essentially, Blood Falls is - quite literally - made of "primordial ooze."

A fissure in the Taylor Glacier is what allows the lake's waters to flow without contaminating its ecosystem. The waters are rich in salinity and iron, which give Blood Falls its blood-red color. This proves to scientists that life can exist in the most extreme of circumstances, bolstering hope that life could exist in the frozen waters recently discovered on distant planets such as Mars and Jupiter's Europa.

© C Harris Lynn, 2010

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