Antarctica's "bleeding" glacier


Like a secular version of one of those crazy weeping Virgin Mary statues, Taylor Glacier in Antarctica* has been known for the blood-like liquid that pours from it since the "Blood Falls" was discovered in 1911.

The eerie waterfall cascades into one of Antarctica's dry valleys—snowless, barren wastes where almost nothing lives. (I wrote about the dry valleys for a BoingBoing feature last month.)

Aunt Flow—as I've just decided to call the Falls—gets its color from the dietary habits of microbes, which live in ancient seawater trapped beneath the glacier. They draw their energy from iron deposits leeched from the rocks the slowly moving glacier grinds to dust—leaving the water streaked rust red.

Even more awesome: This is one of the few places on Earth exobiologists can easily study the kind of extreme life—creatures that survive and thrive in incredibly cold, sunlight-free environments—that might also live on other planets.

*In between this and the frazil ice post, can you tell we got up above 90 F today in Minneapolis? And that I don't have air conditioning?