Underwater Subglacial Water Bodies And Waterfalls Dr. Rodney Aziz

Waterfalls and lakes are majestic natural wonders that many people will travel thousands of miles to behold with their own eyes. It may surprise you to learn that not all lakes and waterfalls are above ground. Some are hidden away deep beneath glaciers or even below other bodies of water.


Lake Whillans

The Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica is hiding a deep and mysterious secret. In January 2013, scientists traveled to Ross Ice Shelf and drilled through it to explore what lied beneath. What they found was a subglacial lake that was rich with microbes that had adapted to a life without sunlight. These microbes feed on fossilized pollen that floats in the water. The pollen has been contained under the ice shelf for over 34 million years. In a nearby location on the same shelf, scientists drilled down 730 meters to a 10-meter deep lake to find microbes as well as translucent fish and crustaceans.


Cenote Angelita

Of all the underwater lakes and rivers you could visit, this is one of the most dangerous. Cenote Angelita is located off of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. This cenote was formed when weak limestone within the bedrock of the body of freshwater collapsed and caused a sinkhole. This sinkhole became filled with salty groundwater, creating a river of saltwater beneath a body of freshwater. In addition to this bizarre phenomenon, a cloud of halocline formed on the surface of the saltwater river to form a deadly barrier. Halocline is a toxic hydrogen sulfide gas that forms due to a difference in salinity in a single body of water. This halocline at Cenote Angelita acts as a makeshift seabed for the upper body of freshwater as any lightweight objects are prevented from traveling through the cloud to reach the river of salt water below.


Denmark Strait Cataract
A marvel in every sense of the word, the Denmark Strait Cataract is an underwater waterfall. Measuring at a staggering 3,500 meters, the Denmark Strait Cataract is located between Iceland and Greenland. This underwater waterfall is caused by the cold waters of the Nordic Seas colliding with the warmer waters of the Irminger Sea. The colder water from the Nordic Seas is denser than the warmer water of the Irminger Sea. This difference in density causes the colder water to flow straight down to the ocean floor. This creates the waterfall.