Blood Falls is super weird. Just look at it:
It turns out that it plays more of a role in our research than I thought. Iron is seeping out of the mighty Taylor GlacierA mass of ice that persists for many years and notably deforms and flows under the influence of gravity., mixed in with super salty water called a brine. Above the ice, this iron brine is exposed to oxygen in the air and turns rusty colored.
Meanwhile, the water under the ice here has layers to it, like italian salad dressing that's been sitting around. Each layer of water gets a little saltier with depth. The most saline (salty) layers are at the bottom because they are the most dense.
The iron brine from Blood Falls has a density that makes it sink until it reaches a point in the water layers where it is as dense as the water around it. We can find all of this out by lowering our instruments into the water and taking samples.
Our team is investigating how this iron and salt changes the way microbes interact with one another. Once they have a lot of iron, does it change the way they behave or how they interact with each other? For instance, does the iron make microbes more or less likely to share nutrients? How does the salt change the distribution of microbes?
Check out this graph:
You can really see the depth of water that each kind of microbe is happiest at!