Blood Falls’ grisly appearance comes from its iron-laden waters, which rust when they come in contact with the air, reddening the briny outflow as it trickles down Taylor Glacier onto ice-covered West Lake Bonney.

What makes Blood Falls truly bizarre though, are the roughly 17 microbial species trapped beneath Taylor Glacier, sans light or nutrients and with almost zero oxygen. Geomicrobiologist Jill Mikucki, now at Dartmouth College, has posited that the microbes rely on a metabolic process never before observed in nature: using sulfate as a catalyst to “breathe” with ferric iron and draw energy from nearby trace organic matter.

blood falls in antarctica

Related Link: