In a study published recently in the Journal of Glaciology, researchers report new information on Blood Falls. Multiple outlets—including Simple Most, Bustle, Outdoor Hub, and Popular Science—reported on the recent findings. Actor George Takei also posted about the study on Facebook.
This study confirms the speculation of a 2015 paper by Jill Mikucki, an assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology, into a confirmed fact—and includes some findings that could have major implications for our warming planet, too.
In the most recent study, researchers, including Mikucki, report new information on the intriguing natural phenomenon’s plumbing: they believe they’ve traced the water’s exact starting point to an reservoir of brine beneath Taylor Glacier. They used radio echoes to map the inside of the Taylor Glacier, eventually gathering enough information to create a map of the many caves and rivers underneath its surface — Mikucki’s speculations appear to be correct.
Using this imaging technique, they were able to trace the water from Blood Falls back to its source: a salty, iron-rich lake trapped beneath the glacier for approximately one million years. Unlike the surrounding ice, the water has such a high salinity that it doesn’t freeze despite the extremely low temperature. The brine from this lake flows through crevasses throughout the glacier, and these iron-rich rivers eventually end in Blood Falls.