The Taylor glacier, also known as Blood Falls, was discovered in 1911 by Robert Scott's ill-fated Terra Nova expedition to the South Pole. It resides in the McMurdo dry valleys of Antarctica 13,000 feet over a sub-glacial lake that is home to a mysterious isolated bacteria colony. The resilient microbes below live off the oxidized sulfur and carbon compounds that were trapped with them when the glacier glided over the lake 1.5 million years ago. The marine bacteria have been compared to organisms that lived during "the harsh epoch known as 'snowball Earth'" when glaciers reached the tropics. Today they are best known for being the cause of Blood Falls, the discolored gash in the glacier caused by the oxidation of the clear iron-rich liquid, a by-product of the microbes' metabolism.
The relics of "snowball Earth" may also indicate life on Mars: "The
bacteria responsible for Blood Falls might be an Earth-bound
approximation of the kind of alien life that might exist . . .beneath
the polar ice caps of Mars. . . " The thriving red glacier points to the
continuity of life in harsh earthly environments and beyond.