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The mysterious "Bloody Waterfalls" of Antarctica do not consist of minerals

Added Wed, 28/06/2023
Дата публикации
Wed, 28/06/2023

In the icy landscape of Antarctica there is an amazing natural object – the "Bloody Waterfall". This unusual sight was discovered back in 1911 by geologist Thomas Griffith Taylor, who attributed it to red algae. Only half a century later it was revealed that the crimson color was caused by iron salts. The most interesting thing is that the water is initially transparent, but after coming out from under the ice it turns red, since iron is oxidized in the air.

Recently, a group of scientists conducted a study that helped solve the long-standing mystery of the "Bloody Waterfall". They studied water samples and found that iron appears in an unexpected form – in the form of nanospheres, 100 times smaller than human red blood cells. This find has significance beyond Antarctica and even beyond Earth.

Just a few years ago, scientists managed to trace the water to its source – an extremely salty subglacial lake under high pressure, without light and oxygen, and a microbial ecosystem that remained isolated for millions of years. Life may exist on other planets in similarly inhospitable conditions, but we may not be sending the right equipment to detect it.

Ken Levy, the author of the study, notes:

Our work has shown that the analysis carried out by all-terrain vehicles is incomplete to determine the true nature of environmental materials on the surface of planets. This is especially true for colder planets such as Mars, where the materials formed can be nanoscale and non-crystalline. Consequently, our methods of identifying these materials are inadequate. To truly understand the nature of the surface of rocky planets, a translucent electron microscope is needed, but it is currently impossible to place it on Mars.

The study was published in the journal Frontiers in Astronomy and Space Sciences.

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