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Lonar crater lake

Lonar craterLonar Lake is a saline soda lake located at Lonar in Buldhana district,  Maharashtra, India, which was created by a meteor impact during the  Pleistocene Epoch and it is the only known hyper velocity impact crater  in basaltic rock anywhere on Earth.

This lake, which lies in a basalt impact structure, is both saline and  alkaline in nature. Geologists, ecologists, archaeologists, naturalists and   astronomers have published studies of various aspects of this crater  lake ecosystem. Lonar Lake has a mean diameter of 1.2 kilometres  (3,900 ft) and is about 137 metres (449 ft) below the crater rim. The  meteor crater rim is about 1.8 kilometres (5,900 ft) in diameter.

The circular depression bears a saline water lake in its central portion. The crater’s age is usually estimated to be 52,000 ± 6,000 years (Pleistocene), although a study published in 2010 gives an age of 570,000 ± 47,000 years.

The Smithsonian Institution, the United States Geological Survey, Geological Society of India, the University of Sagar and the Physical Research Laboratory have conducted extensive studies of the site. Biological nitrogen fixation was discovered in this lake in 2007.

Lonar Lake lies within the only known extraterrestrial impact crater found within the great Deccan Traps basaltic formation of India. The lake was initially believed to be of volcanic origin, but now it is recognized as an impact crater created by the hypervelocity impact of either a comet or an asteroid. The presence of plagioclase that has been either converted into maskelynite or contains planar deformation features (PDFs) has confirmed the impact origin of this crater. It is argued that only shock metamorphism caused by hypervelocity impact can transform plagioclase into maskelynite or create PDFs. The presence of shatter cones, impact deformation of basalt layers comprising its rim, shocked breccia inside the crater, and non-volcanic ejecta blanket surrounding the crater are further proof of the impact origin of Lonar crater.

The crater has an oval shape. The meteorite impact came from the east, at an angle of 35 to 40 degrees.

There are various estimates of the age of the crater. Earlier thermoluminescence analyses gave a result of 52,000 years, while Lonar Craterrecent Argon-argon dating suggests that the crater is much older; it could be 570 000 ± 47 000 years old. This greater age is in line with the degree of erosion processes of crater rims been divided into five distinguishable zones, exhibiting distinct geomorphic characteristics. The five zones are:

  1. The outermost ejecta blanket
  2. The crater rim
  3. The slopes of the crater
  4. The crater basin, excluding lake
  5. The crater lake

 

 


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