Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Blood? Nah, that's cabernet sauvignon rosé!

Actually, this is a photograph of the Blood Falls issuing from the Taylor Glacier in Antarctica, and I'm indebted to Phil Plait at the Discover blog for posting about it. He also provides a link to the Atlas Obscura posting.

It seems the glacier formed over the top of a lake about 2 million years ago, trapping all life within it. Highly saline, very little oxygen, high iron levels, and what you see here is a frozen seep escaping from the lake.

The red colour is the iron, but apparently at least 17 different microbial life forms have been found in the falls. It's thought they use sulphur to catalyse reactions with the iron salts in the water to extract the energy needed to survive, and that they've evolved this capacity since the lake was covered with ice.

Brilliant! Just brilliant!

No comments: