Monday, March 8, 2010

Extreme Weirdness: Antarctica’s “Blood Falls”

 

There is a glacier in Antarctica that seems to be weeping a river of blood. It’s one of the continent’s strangest features, and it’s located in one of the continent’s strangest places — the McMurdo Dry Valleys, a huge, ice-free zone and one of the world’s harshest deserts. So imagine you’re hiking through this –

Antarctica’s  Blood Falls - 1

– which has been kept ice-less since God was a child because of something called the katabatic winds, which sweep over the valleys at up to 200 mph and suck all the moisture out of them. Anyway, you’re hiking along, passing dessicated penguin carcasses and such, and you come to this.

Antarctica’s Blood Falls - 2

A bleeding glacier. Discovered in 1911 by a member of Robert Scott’s ill-fated expedition team, its rusty color was at first theorized to be caused by some sort of algae growth. Later, however, it was proven to be due to iron oxidation. Every so often, the glacier spews forth a clear, iron-rich liquid that quickly oxidizes and turns a deep shade of red. Source

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