IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


15th July, 2023 Geography

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A study conducted on the sediments of a seasonal lake in the Kaas Plateau, located in the Satara district of Maharashtra.


  • Kaas Plateau, located in the Satara district of Maharashtra, is a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site.
  • A study conducted by Agharkar Research Institute (ARI) and the National Centre for Earth Sciences examined sediments from a seasonal lake in the plateau to decode past climate.
  • Sediment profiles dating back to 8,000 years BP provided insights into climatic signatures and ecosystem modifications.

Kaas Plateau and its Significance

  • Kaas Plateau, also known as Kaas Pathar, is a biodiversity hotspot known for its seasonal flower carpet during August and September.
  • Situated approximately 140 km from Pune, the Kaas Plateau is nestled in the Western Ghats.
  • Designated as a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site in 2012.
  • The plateau's name is derived from the Kaasa tree, scientifically known as Elaeocarpus glandulosus.
  • The plateau showcases a diverse range of endemic and rare plant species.

Geological Features and Landscape

  • The Kaas Plateau is characterized by its lateritic crust, formed by weathering of basaltic rocks over time.
  • Shallow depressions and pediments (rock debris) contribute to the unique topography of the plateau.
  • These geological features play a crucial role in the water retention and hydrological processes of the region.

Study Methodology and Sediment Analysis

  • ARI and the National Centre for Earth Sciences conducted the study on sediments from a seasonal lake in Kaas Plateau.
  • Sediment profiles dating back to 8,000 years BP were analyzed using carbon dating (AMS) to decode climatic signatures.
  • Diatoms, mites, thecamoebians, and sediment characteristics provided insights into hydrological processes and lake modifications.

Early-Mid Holocene Climate Shift

  • Sediment analysis indicated a major shift in the Indian Summer Monsoons towards dry and stressed conditions with low rainfall around 8,664 years BP.
  • Pollen and diatom data suggested a change in climate from freshwater to drier conditions, accompanied by intermittent humid periods.

Late Holocene Climate Changes

  • During the late Holocene, approximately 2,827 years BP, a decrease in rainfall and a weakened southwest monsoon were observed.
  • Pollen analysis and the presence of pollution-tolerant diatoms indicated lake eutrophication, possibly due to human impact and livestock farming in the catchment area.

Longevity and Conservation of Kaas Plateau

  • The seasonal lake on Kaas Plateau has existed for nearly 8,000 years and possibly dried up after 2,000 years BP.
  • The observations highlight the plateau's ancient origins, preserved over a long time, and emphasize the need for conservation measures to protect its natural and cultural heritage.


Q) Discuss the key findings of the recent study on Kaas Plateau and their implications for sustainable management of the Kaas Plateau ecosystem. (150 words)