LEH: Renowned geologist Ritesh Arya has unearthed coral reef fossils at 18,000 feet above sea level in the Eastern Ladakh Himalayas at Burtse.
While talking to The Tribune, Arya said, “Coral reefs, often associated with tropical, shallow waters, may be the last thing one expects to find in the Himalayan region of Ladakh, known for its rugged mountains and high-altitude terrain. However, the recent discovery of the coral reef fossils in Burtse challenges conventional wisdom and offers insight into the region’s geological history.”
“These fossils, which include intricate structures of coral colonies, provide a glimpse into an ancient underwater world. They serve as a vivid testament to the incredible biodiversity that once thrived here.
This finding is not only a geological marvel, but also an opportunity to delve into the earth’s remarkable past,” Arya said. He added that the presence of these fossils at 18,000 feet above sea level challenges all preconceived notions of geological history.
“The Himalayas, famous for their towering peaks, were once thought to have been formed through the collision of the Indian plate with the Eurasian plate. The discovery of coral reefs suggests an entirely different past for the region, where marine life once thrived,” the geologist said. Coral reefs are not only geological wonders, but also repositories of the earth’s climate secrets.
“Ladakh, famous for its high-altitude desert landscapes, might have been a different geological entity, one that was home to vibrant marine life, coral reefs and beaches,” Arya observed.
“Burtse, a remote and inaccessible region, offers a rare glimpse into the earth’s geological history. Its dramatic folds and faults, shaped by the colossal tectonic forces at play during the formation of the Himalayas, tell the tale of a time when the Indian plate collided with the Eurasian plate. This collision birthed the mighty Himalayan range and sealed the fate of the Tethys Ocean, which was separating the Gondwana land from Laurasia,” Arya said. (By Ambika Sharma)