TAYLOR GLACIER, ANTARCTICA — A group of U.S. scientists have unravelled the mystery of Blood Falls in Antarctica and how the water gets its blood-red color.

Blood Falls pours from the Taylor Glacier, in Antarctica’s McMurdo Dry Valleys. It was discovered by geoscientist Griffith Taylor in 1911.

According to a recent study, the lake trapped under the glacier has an unusually high concentration of salt. As saltwater has a lower freezing point that water, and releases heat as it freezes, this melts the glacier ice and enables water to flow.

This new finding makes the Taylor Glacier the coldest known glacier to have persistently flowing water.

The iron-rich brine in the lake also oxidizes as soon as it makes contact with the oxygen in the air, thus producing the red color of the waterfall.

Scientists have previously theorized that the water’s red color was caused by red algae.

The study was published in the Journal of Glaciology.

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