- Lake Lonar in India has changed color from deep teal to bright pink.
- The change happened quickly, and scientists have not determined the cause.
- Possibly it is related to an algae bloom or a change in the chemical composition of the water itself.
Large bodies of water generally do not change much in short periods of time. In addition to freezing in winter in colder climates, lakes are often quite resistant to change. The iconic Lonar Lake in India challenges that notion by drastically changing its color from deep green to bright pink in what appears to be a very short period of time.
The change in color was so dramatic that the lake, located in a huge meteorite crater, is now an even bigger tourist destination than it already was. The best part? Scientists don’t know for sure what caused the rapid change in tone.
The lake itself is quite special, and not just because its existence is linked to a meteorite impact. Its location is quite remote, and the water in the lake is highly alkaline and also very salty. For decades, the lake was a deep bluish-green color, and visitors stood still because the landscape, specifically the mountainous ring around the rim of the crater, is simply cool.
“The Lonar crater in India began causing confusion shortly after it was identified in 1823 by a British officer named CJE Alexander,” says NASA of the crater. “The Lonar crater is located within the Deccan Plateau, a huge plain of volcanic basalt rock left over from the eruptions some 65 million years ago. Its location in this basalt field suggested to some geologists that it was a volcanic crater. Today, however, Lonar Crater is understood to be the result of a meteorite impact that occurred between 35,000 and 50,000 years ago. “
Small temples built over hundreds of years dot the crater ring and lake. As for wildlife, you won’t find much in the lake, as the lake is so salty that it prevents fish species from calling it home. It is an interesting place, and now that an invisible force has completely changed the color of the lake, it is even more interesting.
When a large body of water changes color, it is generally related to changes in the microorganisms that exist there. Scientists have not clarified the cause of Lake Lonar’s color change, but the most plausible theory seems to be that the lake is enduring a strong algal bloom or perhaps a more dramatic change in its chemical composition.
“My hunch is that this lake has periodic blooms of pink algae, perhaps not unlike alkaline lakes in East Africa and even ‘red tides’ in the sea,” explains James Andrews of AccuWeather. “Another possibility, even more speculative since I’m not a chemist by trade, is the formation of finely suspended iron oxide or hydroxide particles as a result of some kind of chemical or pH change.”
Whatever the case, there will surely be many eyes on the lake to see if you decide to change again, perhaps offering additional context for your behavior.