Ancient Silk Route lake evaporated 10 years earlier than previously believed

December 26th, 2008 - 4:39 pm ICT by ANI  

New Delhi, Dec 26 (ANI): A study by a leading Chinese academy has determined that a lake believed to nurture the ancient Loulan civilization along the Silk Route, evaporated in 1962, which is 10 years earlier than what was previously thought.

The study was undertaken by scientists from the Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Known as Lop Nur, the former lake, once the largest in northwest China, was earlier believed to have evaporated in 1972 as a result of desert erosion and the loss of trees cut for firewood.

Scientists from Xinjiang reported the lake dried up because it lacked a water source in the desert.

Xia Xuncheng, a researcher with the institute, said that evaporation was irreversible and human activities only sped up the process.

The announcement that the lake evaporated 10 years earlier than previously believed, was made after more than a 4,000 km long scientific expedition by scientists in the lake area and satellite picture analysis.

The research, which started from mid-November and lasted nearly a month, indicated a large flood hit the area in 1958.

A lake emerged afterwards once covering more than 3,000 square km in the Tarim Basin.

The lake was only three meters deep and as much as one third of its water evaporated as there was no water supply, said Xia.

Lop Nur, or Lake Lop, also known as the sea of death, is now a 20,000-square-km seasonal marsh, which is rich in oil, gas, coal and mineral resources.

The area is also known for being the test site for the first Chinese nuclear bomb. (ANI)

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