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Current Affairs

Evidence of river flowing through Thar desert

Date: 22 October 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

Researchers have found the evidence of river activity in central Thar Desert as early as 172 thousand years ago, and may have been a life-line to human populations enabling them to inhabit the region.

 

Background

The findings represent the oldest directly dated phase of river activity at Nal Quarry in the central Thar Desert.

 

Details

  • The study by researchers indicates that Stone Age populations lived in a distinctly different Thar Desert landscape than we encounter today.

  • These findings predate evidence for activity in modern river courses across the Thar Desert as well as dried up course of the Ghaggar-Hakra River.

  • The presence of a river running through the central Thar Desert would have offered a life-line to Paleolithic populations, and potentially an important corridor for migrations.

  • Studies of satellite imagery have shown a dense network of river channels crossing the Thar Desert.

  • These studies can indicate where rivers and streams have flowed in the past, but they can’t tell us when.

  • The team studied a deep deposit of river sands and gravels, which had been exposed by quarrying activity near the village of Nal. 

  • The researchers were able to document different phases of river activity by studying the different deposits.

  • The researchers used a method called luminescence dating to understand when quartz grains in the river sands were buried.

  • The river was flowing at its strongest during a phase of weak monsoonal activity in the region, and may have been a life-line to human populations enabling them to inhabit the Thar Desert.

  • The timeframe over which this river was active also overlaps with significant changes in human behaviour in the region, which have been linked with the earliest expansions of Homo sapiens from Africa into India.