One of the world's most extreme deserts might be the last place one would expect to find a waterfall, but in Antarctica's McMurdo Dry Valley, a five-story fall pours slowly out of the Taylor Glacier into Lake Bonney. And it's not just the idea of a waterfall in the frozen world of Antarctica that is strange: the waterfall is bright red, like blood running from a cut in the glacier.
If you're squeamish, don't worry—it's not blood that lends Blood Falls its unique crimson hue. Five million years ago, sea levels rose, flooding East Antarctica and forming a salty lake. Millions of years later, glaciers formed on top of the lake, cutting it off from the rest of the continent—meaning that the water in Blood Falls is something of an aqueous time capsule, preserved 400 meters underground.
As the glaciers on top of the lake began to freeze, the water below became even saltier. Today, the salt content of the subglacial lake under Blood Falls is three times saltier than seawater and too salty to freeze. The subglacial lake that feeds Blood Falls is trapped beneath a quarter mile of ice.