Lonar Lake – Buldhana, India - Atlas Obscura

Lonar Lake

Buldhana, India

This rare basalt crater lake is used to study the Moon and Mars. 


Approximately 50,000 years ago, a meteorite traveling at about 11 miles per second slammed into India’s Deccan Plateau. The collision formed Lonar Lake, the one of the largest, most unique basalt impact craters in the world.

The oval-shaped crater, which has a circumference of about five miles at the top, is both saline and alkaline. Perennial streams and springs feed into the lake. It’s home to a horde of algae and plankton species that thrive in its unusual ecosystem and give the water its vibrant color.

Because of its basaltic surface, scientists now use Lonar Lake to study craters and impact structures on other, more difficult to reach places like the Moon and Mars.

When the lake was first brought to international attention in the 19th century, scientists originally thought it was of volcanic origins. However, in the mid 20th century, geologists began to suspect it stemmed from an extraterrestrial encounter. Their suspicions were confirmed after maskelynite, a glass formed by high-velocity impacts, was found at the site.

Lonar Lake is rimmed by lush forests and a smattering of old temples. Supposedly, compasses fail to work near some parts of the crater because of its unique geologic makeup.

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