Was Ladakh Once Home to Coral Reefs? Geologist Discovers Fossils at 18,000ft in Ladakh

October 19, 2023
underwater photography of ocean
Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Pexels.com

Ladakh: The discovery of coral reef fossils, complete with intricate structures of coral colonies, in the Burtse area of Ladakh provides a unique glimpse into the region’s geological history, revealing an ancient underwater world and the diverse biodiversity that once thrived there. Geologist Ritesh Arya made this remarkable find at 18,000 feet above sea level in the eastern Ladakh Himalayas.

“These findings hold the potential to reshape our understanding of the region’s past. Ladakh, known for its high-altitude desert landscapes, may have once been an entirely different geological landscape—one teeming with vibrant marine life, coral reefs, and beaches,” Arya shared on the eve of World Fossil Day, celebrated on October 19.

Coral reefs are not only geological wonders but also serve as archives of Earth’s climate history, containing vital information about past climate conditions, including sea surface temperatures and sea level fluctuations. The study of these coral reef fossils offers a promising avenue for uncovering valuable insights into Earth’s climate history and furthering our understanding of climate change.

Arya added that the geological history of Burtse draws a fascinating parallel to the beaches of Rameshwaram or the Andaman and Nicobar Islands we see today.

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