the mining area around the Rio Tinto in Spain has created some of the most morbidly beautiful and bizarrely haunting landscapes on earth. the terrain is otherworldly- it seems more like martian stomping grounds or another part of the moon than a place that belongs on Earth.
the river has been tainted from heavy mining. high concentrations of iron dissolved in the water turn the water a deep crimson hue, and acid mine drainage led to heavy metal concentrations in the river. the river’s caustic composition has created a lot of environmental problems in the surrounding areas.
Rio Tinto has been a major area of interest to the scientific community because of the presence of extremophile aerobic bacteria in the water. this type of bacteria contributes to the high acid concentration of the water, and is believed to be comparable to other planets that also have liquid water. (as in, these might be the same kind of bacteria that could survive on subterranean mars!) NASA scientists also linked the chemistry of the river water to the water that’s thought to exist on Jupiter’s moon Europa.
maybe not the best vacation swimming spot, but visiting here is probably the closest you’ll get to visiting mars or jupiter. crazy.
image sources: igreens.org.uk, the guardian, chezkie.wordpress.com, myguidestar.com, www.falw.vu, kajitsukazenjin.wordpress.com