One of the most mysterious features that Antarctica is famous for is the Blood Falls which flows from the Taylor Glacier. The origin of the waterfall has been a mystery that has left scientists baffled for decades.
The water discharged by the Blood Falls is bright red in colour. Australian geologist Griffith Taylor was the first person to spot this bizarre waterfall in 1911 and he had guesstimated that the Blood Falls comprised of red algae.
In 2003, the water of the glacier was said to be the last drops of a salt water lake, which was five million years old, according to scientists who explained that the blood-like colour was due to the presence of oxidized iron.
According to a new study, a huge lake which is trapped under the ice for the past one million years is the source of the Blood Falls. Iron is the reason behind the colour of the iron-rich water, as iron's colour transform to bright red when it comes in contact with air.
Researchers from University of Colorado and University of Alaska had collaborated to carry out this study, with Jessica Badgeley as the lead author.
Electrical pulses on the glacier were sent and received by researchers with the help of radio-echo sounding, which is also referred to as radio glaciology -- the study of ice sheets and glaciers.
The researchers found out what was happening beneath ice. It was revealed that water could prevail below frozen glaciers for as long as a million years. They also explained that the freezing temperature of salt water is lower, which helps it in staying in liquid state.
"While it sounds counterintuitive, water releases heat as it freezes, and that heat warms the surrounding colder ice," said Erin Pettit of University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF).
"Taylor Glacier is now the coldest known glacier to have persistently flowing water," Pettit added.