WTF Fun Fact 13416 – Blood Falls Antarctica

Blood Falls Antarctica is a frozen waterfall, cascading five stories from the ice, gushing forth not crystal-clear water but an arresting, vivid red liquid.

So, what’s the backstory of Blood Falls Antarctica?

It’s a tale woven from the threads of geology, microbiology, and chemistry, spun over millennia. Blood Falls gets its name and dramatic hue from iron-rich brine, trapped under Taylor Glacier over two million years ago.

The secrets of the falls stayed locked away until the brine found a fissure through which to burst forth. And here’s the fun part – the iron in the water, upon exposure to air, undergoes a reaction. It rusts! Just like an old garden rake left out in the rain, the liquid takes on a startlingly bright, rusty red hue. Hence, the startling crimson cascade that is Blood Falls.

It’s alive!

But the story doesn’t end there. Hidden beneath the glacier, in the depths of the briny reservoir, researchers discovered something utterly mind-blowing. Microbes! Yes, you read that right – in an environment devoid of light and oxygen, where temperatures can dip well below freezing, life has found a way.

These extremophile microbes feast on sulfates in the water, metabolizing them into energy. Aha! Now we’re cooking! These minuscule organisms offer fascinating insights into life’s tenacity, its sheer refusal to go gentle into that good night. They show us the stunning adaptability of life and provide tantalizing possibilities about life existing in similar conditions on other planets. Mars, anyone?

A unique tourist destination

Now, you might think that with its vivid, gory spectacle and a location as remote as Antarctica, Blood Falls would be off the radar for most people. But you’d be mistaken. This extraordinary waterfall has become a focal point for scientists and a bucket list destination for adventure tourists seeking experiences far from the beaten path. Imagine the selfies!

It’s a testament to nature’s ingenuity and never-ending capacity to surprise and inspire us. From the moment geologist Griffith Taylor discovered it in 1911, Blood Falls has been a thing of grim beauty and scientific wonder. It stands there today, a riveting red river flowing from a glacier’s heart, a symbol of the mysteries that still lie tucked away in Earth’s farthest corners, waiting for us to uncover them.

 WTF fun facts

Source: “Blood Falls in Antarctica, what makes them red?” — EarthSky

WTF Fun Fact 13378 – Volcanoes of Mars

The volcanoes of Mars are part of the planet’s dramatic landscape. Mars is also home to the solar system’s largest known volcano – Olympus Mons.

The many volcanoes of Mars

Mars’ volcanic landscape provides valuable insights into its geological history and the processes that have shaped its surface. The volcanoes of Mars have played a significant role in shaping the planet’s topography and its potential for supporting past or present life.

A variety of volcano types, including shield volcanoes, volcanic domes, and stratovolcanoes, exist on Mars. Shield volcanoes, such as Olympus Mons, exhibit a broad, low-profile shape and gentle slopes. Successive eruptions of fluid lava gradually build up the volcano’s size, facilitated by the low gravity of Mars, resulting in exceptionally large shield volcanoes that dominate the planet’s surface.

In addition to shield volcanoes, other volcanic structures on Mars provide unique insights. Volcanic domes form as viscous lava accumulates around a vent, creating a steep and rounded top. Scattered across the Martian landscape, these structures offer clues about past volcanic activity and its nature.

Olympus Mons

Olympus Mons stands as the largest volcano in the solar system. Its colossal size and unique characteristics make it a captivating subject of scientific study. Olympus Mons is a shield volcano, formed by repeated volcanic eruptions over millions of years. Unlike the steep-sided stratovolcanoes found on Earth, shield volcanoes are characterized by their broad, gently sloping profile.

Olympus Mons reaches an astonishing height of approximately 13.6 miles and spans a diameter of about 370 miles. This dwarfs Earth’s largest volcano, Mauna Loa in Hawaii.

The surface of Olympus Mons reveals intricate lava flow patterns, resulting from multiple eruptions over time. The volcano’s low topographic relief and extensive lava flows contribute to its shield-like shape.

An explosive field of research

While Mars is believed to be geologically less active than Earth, evidence suggests that volcanic activity on the planet occurred in the past and may even persist to a limited extent today. The discovery of volcanic features and geological clues shed light on the planet’s volcanic history.

Volcanic eruptions on Mars have had a significant impact on its environment. Outpourings of lava, release of volcanic gases, and ash deposition have influenced the composition of the Martian atmosphere and potentially affected the planet’s climate.

The study of Martian volcanoes provides scientists with a deeper understanding of the processes that shape rocky planets. By comparing volcanic activity on Mars to that on Earth and other celestial bodies, researchers can unravel the underlying mechanisms driving volcanic eruptions and their implications for planetary evolution.

 WTF fun facts

Source: Olympus Mons – NASA Mars Exploration