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Blood Falls: Nature’s gruesome display of beauty in Antarctica


Image of Blood Falls in Antarctica from November 26, 2006 (Peter Rejcek/National Science Foundation)

Science 360’s picture of the day is a stunner: Blood Falls, a discharge of deep red water off the edge of Taylor glacier in Antarctica.

In the image above, that little beach ball-appearing object on the bottom left is actually a researcher’s tent, giving you a sense of the massive size of the feature.

“Scientists believe a buried saltwater reservoir is partly responsible for the discoloration [in the falls], which is a form of reduced iron,” Science 360 says.


Image of Blood Falls in Antarctica from December 14, 2010 (Peter Rejcek, National Science Foundation).

Researchers at Ohio State University concluded the underground lake feeding the falls formed about 5 million years ago when sea levels were higher and the ocean extended deeper into the Antarctic continent.

Via NASA: "The reddish discoloration, known as Blood Falls, appears to be visible in this false-color image captured by the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) on NASA’s Terra satellite on November 29,2000."
Via NASA: “The reddish discoloration, known as Blood Falls, appears to be visible in this false-color image captured by the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) on NASA’s Terra satellite on November 29,2000.”

“This five-story, blood-red “waterfall” pours ever so slowly out of the Taylor Glacier in Antarctica’s McMurdo Dry Valley,” notes Slate whose Atlas Obscura Web site features a remarkable gallery of images.

For more on Blood Falls, check out The Weather Channel’s feature: Blood Falls: Antarctica’s Stunning Secret (PHOTOS) and EarthSky’s piece: Blood Falls, five stories high, seeps from an Antarctic glacier

Jason is the Washington Post’s weather editor and Capital Weather Gang's chief meteorologist. He earned a master's degree in atmospheric science, and spent 10 years as a climate change science analyst for the U.S. government. He holds the Digital Seal of Approval from the National Weather Association.
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