Nestled in the Buldhana district of Maharashtra, India, Lonar Lake, also known as Lonar crater, is a notified National Geo-heritage Monument, saline, soda lake, and a site of immense geological, ecological, and astronomical significance. This enigmatic marvel was formed 52,000 years ago when a meteor weighing 2 million tonnes crashed into the earth at an estimated speed of 90,000 kmph, creating the world’s third-largest natural salt-water lake. The impact resulted in the formation of the earth’s largest and only hyper-velocity impact crater in basaltic rock, making Lonar Lake a unique and scientifically intriguing destination.
The lake’s mysterious nature has captivated the curiosity of scientists, astronomers, geologists, and ecologists, as well as visitors from around the world. Despite extensive studies by NASA and the Geological Survey of India, numerous questions about Lonar Lake remain unanswered, adding to its allure and mystique. The lake’s alkaline and saline content, support for micro-organisms rarely found elsewhere on Earth, the failure of compasses to work in certain parts of the crater, and the secrets lurking at the bottom continue to baffle researchers.
Lonar Lake is not only a geological wonder but also a site where religion, science, and mythology converge. Referenced in ancient Indian scriptures such as the Padma Purana and Skanda Purana, Lonar Lake has a rich historical and mythological significance, further adding to its mystique. The lake’s surroundings are steeped in legends and unanswered questions, making it a destination that appeals to both scientific curiosity and spiritual intrigue.
Reason for Lonar Lake Water Turning Red
The recent discovery of the water in Lonar Lake turning reddish has sparked further interest and investigation, with the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) being requested to find out the reason behind this phenomenon.
The reason for Lonar Lake water turning red is primarily attributed to the high salinity of the water and the presence of algae in the lake. The color change from green to pink is believed to be caused by a combination of factors, including increased salinity, stressful water conditions, and the presence of halophilic microbes such as Haloarchaea. Here are the key factors contributing to the color change:
- Increased salinity: The absence of rain, less human interference due to the lockdown, and high temperature are believed to have contributed to the evaporation of water, increasing the salinity and pH of the lake. This facilitated the growth of halophilic microbes, mainly Haloarchaea, which produce pink pigment.
- Stressful water conditions: The rapid change in color could be due to stressful water conditions that occurred in a short amount of time. High salinity or exposure to a lot of light can cause algae to produce protective carotenoids (pigmented compounds), such as orange-red beta carotene, potentially turning the water pink.
- Presence of algae: Algae in the lake may have contributed to the color change. The salinity and algae in the water body can be responsible for the pink color.
The color of the lake is expected to return to its original green as the rainy season progresses, allowing the dilution of the water and a decrease in salinity and pH levels. Further research and analysis of water samples collected by the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) and the Agharkar Research Institute are being conducted to confirm the exact cause of the color change.
Lonar Lake stands as a testament to the enduring mysteries of our planet, offering a unique blend of geological, ecological, and astronomical marvels that continue to intrigue and inspire. Whether you are a scientist, a history enthusiast, or a curious traveler, Lonar Lake invites you to explore its depths and unravel the enigma that has fascinated humanity for millennia.