An image of the bloody waterfall in Antarctica. Wikimedia Commons.

Mystery of the “bloody waterfall” in Antarctica solved

Discovered in 1911 by geologist Thomas Griffith Taylor, this startling sight was initially linked to red algae.


Nestled in the icy embrace of Antarctica lies an anomaly: a vivid red waterfall. Unraveling this unique spectacle’s mystery has led scientists on an extraordinary journey.

Discovered in 1911 by geologist Thomas Griffith Taylor, this startling sight was initially linked to red algae. It wasn’t until fifty years later that the crimson flow was ascribed to iron salts. Intriguingly, the water cascades clear, reddening upon contact with air due to iron oxidation—a millennia-old process.


Mystery of the “Bloody Waterfall” in Antarctica Solved

A recent study delved into water samples, revealing a surprising form of iron. Rather than being a mineral, it manifests as nanospheres, unimaginably smaller than human red blood cells.


“I noticed iron-rich nanospheres in the microscope images, which contained various elements like silicon, calcium, aluminum, and sodium,” said Ken Livi, a study contributor. Livi emphasized that these nanospheres, lacking a crystalline structure, evade traditional mineral detection methods.

Extraterrestrial Implications

This discovery has potential repercussions beyond our globe. Just years ago, scientists traced the water back to a salty, oxygen-deprived subglacial lake under high pressure, home to a microbial ecosystem that’s been secluded for millions of years. Life under similar harsh conditions may thrive on other planets, yet our current exploration equipment might miss it.

Rethinking Space Exploration Equipment

“Our work shows that rover analysis is insufficient to understand environmental materials on planetary surfaces fully,” Livi pointed out. Particularly on colder planets like Mars, nanosized, non-crystalline materials might form, escaping our present detection techniques. A transmission electron microscope would be crucial for a true understanding of rocky planetary surfaces, yet it’s currently not plausible to place one on Mars.


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Written by Ivan Petricevic

I've been writing passionately about ancient civilizations, history, alien life, and various other subjects for more than eight years. You may have seen me appear on Discovery Channel's What On Earth series, History Channel's Ancient Aliens, and Gaia's Ancient Civilizations among others.

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