In 1911, British geoscientist Thomas Griffith Taylor discovered a very special place in Antarctica. From time to time, red water flows along the glacier, without anyone being able to explain this phenomenon. Over the years, it was understood that the color was due to the contact between the iron oxide present in the water and the oxygen of the air. A classic case of rust, but which earned the Taylor Glacier the nickname of Blood Falls,
But, with the exception of speculation in 2015 , no one had yet been able to determine precisely where this water rich in iron came from. It is now done, as the Popular Science site tells , which relays a study published in the Journal of Glaciology where researchers from Colorado College and the University of Alaska Fairbanks explain that part of a water reservoir Under the glacier.
Jessica Badgeley of Colorado College told Popular Science: “We knew there was a flow of salt water that created the waterfall, and that the 2015 study almost showed that this salt water came from under glacier. The mystery that remained was the link between this source and the flow. This is quite unusual, and there are very few similar cases. So it was still difficult to know how the water went from under the glacier to the surface. ”
It must be known that even if salt is present, it is not sufficient to prevent glaciation; This source should have been frozen. In reality, this source is able to warm itself. “When water passes through the phase when it passes from the liquid state to the solid state, it releases heat, it’s just basic chemistry ,” says Popular Science. In the case of the salt water that flows through the Taylor Glacier, the heat that is released by the salt water that freezes is sufficient to maintain the flow of the remainder. “ The researchers then traced, Radio waves and a robot, the origin of this flow at least exceptional. It turned out that the water remains hot under the glacier and that when crevasses are created, the pressure makes it rise again, ready to emerge when the surface cracks.
If the “Antarctica Blood Falls” no longer have mysteries, researchers believe there are lessons to be learned. “It’s very important to understand how fast and fast glaciers and ice sheets will evolve with climate change,” says Bdgeley. With temperatures rising around the world, more glaciers could pour out red water.