A natural lake that is saline and alkaline at the same time – well, that’s something that you don’t really see on a fairly regular basis but, a lake like that exists! While this unique combination makes the lake pretty unique, it has much more to offer both for the scientific community as well as nature enthusiasts. Popular by the name Lonar Crater Lake, this unique water body has been subject to scientific studies for a very long time. Interesting however is the fact that not many people know about this one-of-a-kind lake, which kept it pretty well-preserved for thousands of years. So, let us learn 20 interesting Lonar Crater Lake facts and find out more about its origins and unique features.
Interesting Lonar Crater Facts: 1-10
1. The Lonar Crater Lake is located in Maharashtra. To be more specific, it is located a Lonar (which is where it gets the part of its name) in Buldana district.
2. The lake is located in world’s only high velocity impact crater formed in basaltic rock. Scientists guess that the crater was formed by an asteroid or a comet hitting the area at a speed of 90,000 kilometers per hour.
3. Two different methods were used to estimate the age of the lake. The first one was thermoluminescence analysis which revealed that the age of the lake to be 52,000 years old with a spread of 6000 years correction on either side. This simply means that the scientists estimate the age of the crater lake to be anywhere between 46,000 years and 58,000 years.
4. The other method used for age estimation was Argon-Argon dating which says that the crater was formed some 570,000 years ago with a spread of 47,000 years correction on either side.
5. Initially the scientists believed that the lake was of volcanic origins but further studies proved that the lake was sitting in a crater formed by extraterrestrial impact. In fact, the facts that led to abandoning of volcanic origin theory were the planar deformation features and presence of maskelynite, neither of which are of volcanic origins.
6. The crater hosting the lake has an oval shape indicating that the asteroid or the comet had hit India’s Deccan Traps basaltic formation as an angle of 35 degrees to 40 degrees.
7. The mean diameter of the Lonar Lake is 3,900 feet or 1.2 kilometers while the crater in which the lake sits is 1.8 kilometers in diameter.
8. Around the crater basin lies a series of low hill with an 8 kilometers circumference on the top. The sides of the basin have an abrupt 75 degrees rise.
9. The slopes around the lake have a multiple rings of trees. The trees fan out to the width of 1 mile. What is interesting is that each ring of tree is made up of a specific species of tree. For instance, the first and outermost ring is of date palms. Inside the date palm ring is the tamarind tree ring and inside it is a ring of babul trees.
10. Inside the babul tree ring is a mud belt that is known for rich deposits of different sodas (alkaline) and salts.
Interesting Lonar Crater Facts: 11-20
11. There is absolutely no vegetation of any kind in the mud belt and this is due to the alkaline content of the area.
12. During monsoons, the muddy area is covered by the water from the lake. However, when the water on the bank gets evaporated during non-monsoon seasons, the muddy bank extending for a few hundred meters shows a covering of wheatish slimy soil.
13. On the southern end of the lake’s edge is a sweet water well. There are two streams which act as a water source for the lake as both the streams drain directly into the lake.
14. There are several temples surrounding the Lonar Crater Lake. Unfortunately, none of these temples are in use now but all of them are ancient temples depicting unique ancient Indian architecture. Some of the temples are from the 6th and 12th century CE. Some temples have Khajuraho-style stone engravings too.
15. The ecosystem of the lake is pretty unique in the sense that there are two distinct water regions in the lake and they don’t mix with each other.
16. The outer region is neutral region with pH level of 7. The inner region is the alkaline region with a pH level of 11. Both regions have their unique and diverse flora and fauna.
17. The lake also have non-symbiotic nitrogen fixing microbes like Slackia sp. Actinopolyspora sp., Paracoccus sp. Klebsiella sp. and Halomonas sp. Studies have shown that all these microbes and live only in alkaline conditions with a pH level of 11.
18. The monitor lizard is one of the most prominent reptiles found in the Lonar Crater Lake.
19. The lake is also known for supporting a wide variety of migratory and resident birds like swallows, robins, magpies, tailorbirds, larks, hoopoes, parakeet, baya weavers, blue jays, red-wattled lapwings, herons, teals, shovellers, shelducks, grebes, brahminy ducks and black-winged stilts.
20. The lake and its ecosystem is also the home to thousands of gazelles, chinkara and peafowls.
Sources: 1, 2