Scientists have discovered new species of iron-breathing microbes that have lived isolated under an Antarctic glacier for millions of years. The microbes are responsible for the landmark blood-red frozen waterfall at Taylor Glacier.
Researchers theorise that the microbes were trapped by the advancing glacier which eventually sealed them inside their habitat. The microbes have persisted in an extreme environment with no light, no oxygen, extreme cold, and high salinity. They are able to survive by liberating iron from the bedrock with the aid of a sulphur catalyst .
The trapped pool is thought to lie several hundred metres below the surface of the glacier, some four kilometres from Blood Falls. Scientists have only been able to study the microbes indirectly by sampling rare trickles of effluence at the Falls.
It's the Earthblood, I tell you!
It is the blood of Mother Nature spilling forth from the wounds inflicted upon her by man! ;-)
It's a thoroughly fascinating find. So the floors of those Antarctic valleys rose up over a million years ago, trapping a pool of fjordal seawater, which was then encapsulated by a glacier flowing over the top.
Anything and everything is possible. Next stop, Europa.
It's certainly providing an interesting option for Francis Collins' next hiking trip.