• Don’t worry—there is no blood at Blood Falls!
     
    Blood Falls, Antarctica, is a natural landmark. It’s found at the end of Taylor Glacier, near Antarctica’s usually ice-free Dry Valleys. 
     
    Blood Falls gets its name from the blood-red water trickling from the glacier. The water is red because of the presence of iron. The iron in Blood Falls’ water turns red as it oxidizes, or rusts, when it comes into contact with oxygen in the air.
     
    The iron-rich water of Blood Falls doesn’t actually come from Taylor Glacier. It comes from a salty lake buried beneath the glacier. A crack, or fissure, in Taylor Glacier allows the water from this lake to rise up and dribble into the icy Antarctic landscape.
    1. What is bleeding at Blood Falls?

      Nothing! There is no blood. Blood Falls gets its name from the red, iron-rich water trickling from Taylor Glacier.

    2. Can you go swimming in the lake that creates Blood Falls?

      No! The lake that creates Blood Falls is buried 400 meters (1,312 feet) beneath the ice of Taylor Glacier. It is impossible for people to access, and would be far too cold (below 0 degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit)) and far too salty (three times as salty as the ocean) to enjoy a dip.

  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    ancient Adjective

    very old.

    Antarctic Ice Sheet Noun

    thick glacier covering most of Antarctica.

    astrobiologist Noun

    person who studies the possibility of life in outer space.

    autotroph Noun

    organism that can produce its own food and nutrients from chemicals in the atmosphere, usually through photosynthesis or chemosynthesis.

    Encyclopedic Entry: autotroph
    bacteria Plural Noun

    (singular: bacterium) single-celled organisms found in every ecosystem on Earth.

    basin Noun

    a dip or depression in the surface of the land or ocean floor.

    Encyclopedic Entry: basin
    bedrock Noun

    solid rock beneath the Earth's soil and sand.

    Encyclopedic Entry: bedrock
    characteristic Adjective

    particular feature of an organism.

    chemical reaction Noun

    process that involves a change in atoms, ions, or molecules of the substances (reagents) involved.

    chemosynthesis Noun

    process by which some microbes turn carbon dioxide and water into carbohydrates using energy obtained from inorganic chemical reactions.

    compound Noun

    substance having at least two chemical elements held together with chemical bonds.

    concentrated Adjective

    items gathered closely together in one place.

    continental glacier Noun

    ice sheet that covers an enormous area.

    descend Verb

    to go from a higher to a lower place.

    environment Noun

    conditions that surround and influence an organism or community.

    erode Verb

    to wear away.

    Europa Noun

    moon of Jupiter.

    exclude Verb

    to purposely leave out.

    extract Verb

    to pull out.

    extremophile Noun

    microbe that is able to survive in very harsh environments, such as freezing or boiling water.

    fissure Noun

    narrow opening or crack.

    glacier Noun

    mass of ice that moves slowly over land.

    Encyclopedic Entry: glacier
    glaciology Noun

    study of glaciers and ice sheets.

    hydrothermal vent Noun

    opening on the seafloor that emits hot, mineral-rich solutions.

    hypersaline lake Noun

    type of lake with a very high salt content.

    iron Noun

    chemical element with the symbol Fe.

    isolate Verb

    to set one thing or organism apart from others.

    landmark Noun

    a prominent feature that guides in navigation or marks a site.

    landscape Noun

    the geographic features of a region.

    Encyclopedic Entry: landscape
    limnologist Noun

    person who studies lakes and ponds.

    microbe Noun

    tiny organism, usually a bacterium.

    microbiology Noun

    study of the structure, function, and behavior of microscopic organisms.

    moon Noun

    natural satellite of a planet.

    Encyclopedic Entry: moon
    outflow Noun

    water, sediment, and chemicals discharged by a river or other flowing body of water.

    oxidation Noun

    chemical process of a substance combining with oxygen to change the substance's physical and molecular structure.

    oxygen Noun

    chemical element with the symbol O, whose gas form is 21% of the Earth's atmosphere.

    permeate Verb

    to penetrate or pass through every part of something.

    phenomenon Noun

    an unusual act or occurrence.

    photosynthesis Noun

    process by which plants turn water, sunlight, and carbon dioxide into water, oxygen, and simple sugars.

    plateau Noun

    large region that is higher than the surrounding area and relatively flat.

    Encyclopedic Entry: plateau
    plume Noun

    single, upward flow of a fluid, such as water or smoke.

    pristine Adjective

    pure or unpolluted.

    residue Noun

    material left over after something has been removed.

    rust Verb

    to dissolve and form a brittle coating, as iron does when exposed to air and moisture.

    snout Noun

    end of a glacier.

    subglacial lake Noun

    inland body of fresh water that exists under a glacier or ice cap.

    supernatural Adjective

    having to do with powers not explained by science or nature.

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