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Blood Falls Mystery Solved

By: Brady Cheng

There are plenty of waterfalls out in the world, but one of the most unusual and stunning ones is called the Blood Falls.

Australian geologist Griffith Taylor discovered Blood Falls during an expedition in 1911. He thought the red color was from red algae. Later, studies proved that the blood-red color was most likely from the iron in the lake that feeds the waterfall.

But when Lyons and his team analyzed the water, they found traces of water. They were iron-rich nanospheres. They are even tinier than human red blood cells. "As soon as I looked at the microscope images, I noticed that there were these little nanospheres and they were iron-rich, and they have lots of different elements in them besides iron – silicon, calcium, aluminum, sodium – and they all varied," said study co-author Ken Livi. The subglacial lake that feeds the falls is very salty, with no light or oxygen. This is similar to Mars, so it suggests that there could be life on Mars.

"Our work has revealed that the analysis conducted by rover vehicles is incomplete in determining the true nature of environmental materials on planet surfaces," said Livi. But to truly understand the nature of Mars’ surface, a transmission electron microscope would be needed, but it would be impossible to place one on Mars. “They are created by the micro bacteria that reside in subglacial lakes. The nanoparticles oxidize, giving the water flowing to the Blood Falls its distinctive red hue.” says Shariqua Ahmed, the author.

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