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TOPIC: Lonar Crater


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Microbiologists in Maharashtra have found 'magnetic bacteria' in the ancient Lonar lake formed due to meteorite impact, a finding that might open a vista for searching extra-terrestrial life.
The magnetotactic bacteria, which are object of interest of scientists from various fields world over, were isolated from the lake in Maharashtra's Buldana district which is the only impact crater formed in basaltic rock.

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123176958_81f49fec8c_o.jpg
View of Lonar Sarovar, from the view point near the MSTDC resort.
This is a merge of two photos, and the patchwork is visible in the middle.

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In a bid to attract tourists to Lonar crater, considered to be the third largest crater in the world, Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) is setting up an interpretation centre-cum-museum to let the people understand its significance.

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Sunset at Lonar Creator





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About 50,000 years ago, a huge meteorite smacked into our planet, gouging a hole more than a mile wide and 790 feet deep in India. Of the roughly 150 known meteorite impact sites on Earth, Lonar Crater is the only one that hit in an area layered with volcanic rock—a massive plateau of ancient lava flows called the Deccan Traps.

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Princeton graduate student Nick Swanson-Hysell and colleagues visited the mile-wide, 790-foot-deep Lonar Crater created by a meteorite in the Deccan Traps, an ancient lava flow covering more than 200,000 square miles in India. WHOI volcanologist Adam Soule is studying how meteors scar surfaces of other planets like Mars.

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Lonar's declining salinity is a cause for worry

LONAR lake, India; Buldhana district's unique geological feature, has fascinated scientists for decades. The formation of the saline lake has been widely attributed to a meteor impact. But recent studies of the water by scientists from Agharkar Research Institute (ARI), Pune, say the lake is losing its unique chemical properties to human interference.

Also, the salinity has been decreasing at an alarming rate, which may lead to extinction of several microbial species that thrive in it.

''In 10 years, the salinity has come down drastically - tenth of what it used to be'' - Pradnya Kanekar, ARI microbiologist.

The studies were conducted between November 1993 and January 2002.
Concerningly, the ph rate (which determines the acidic or alkaline nature of a substance) has come down.

''It will adversely affect the unique ecosystem of the lake. Many varieties of halophilic (salt loving) and alkaliphilic (alkaline system loving) microbes survive in the water. They will be endangered by the change. Lonar will become like any freshwater lake in the region'' - Pradnya Kanekar.



The lake is fed by many sweetwater springs that originate at the top of the hills surrounding the lake. Human interference, like removal of salt from the lake's bed during summer and pipes that discharge fresh water into it, could be the reasons for the salinity going down.
Her concern is shared by Geological Survey of India's senior deputy director-general (operations) and Lonar expert K.G. Bhoskar, who is likely to initiate a new study.

''Usually, the salinity changes due to rain. However, if there has been a steady decline in salinity, it is cause for concern. We can only make suggestions to the government which will have to take appropriate action'' - K.G. Bhoskar.

But there are bureaucratic wheels that will have to roll.

Lonar is the only crater lake found in basaltic rock. It is suspected to have been formed after a meteor impact. The saline lake is 100 meters deep with a diameter of 1,830 meters. Studies by GSI geologists and scientists the world over indicate that the lake was formed some 0.052 ± 0.006 Million years ago.


Location: 19° 58' 28 N 76° 30' 32E

Source : The Indian Express, Wednesday, October 19, 2005

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