Palaeoenvironmental history of Bap-Malar and Kanod playas of western Rajasthan, Thar desert

B. C. Deotare, M. D. Kajale, S. N. Rajaguru, S. Kusumgar, A. J.T. Jull, J. D. Donahue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Two playas in the arid core of the western margin of the Thar desert viz., Bap-Malar and Kanod, have been investigated using palynology, geomorphology, archaeology, AMS-radiocarbon dating, stable isotopes, evaporite mineralogy and geoarchaeology. The principal objective was to obtain a reliable lithostratigraphy of the playa sediments. These are about 7 m thick in the Bap-Malar and > 2.5 to 3 m thick in the Kanod. AMS 14C dates of > 15 ka BP on pollen from sediment layers indicates that the Bap-Malar playa possibly existed even during the LGM. These playas were full of water during the early Holocene (8 ka BP - 5.5 ka BP) and were ephemeral during the Pleistocene-Holocene transition and early to mid to late Holocene. The playas dried almost 1000 years earlier than those occurring on the eastern margin. Pollen of graminaceae, chenopodiaceae/amaranthaceae, cyperaceae etc. and evaporite minerals like gypsum, halite in the profiles indicate that the playas were surrounded by vegetation dominated by grass and that, they remained brackish to saline even during the mid Holocene, lake full stage. Stable dune surfaces, pediments with regoliths, and gravelly channels of ephemeral streams provided a favorable geomorphic niche for nomadic human activity since ∼ 7 ka BP. Though local ecological factors have played an important role in the evolution of the playas, the winter rains, connected with northwesterly depressions, most likely played a vital role in maintaining these playas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)403-425
Number of pages23
JournalProceedings of the Indian Academy of Sciences, Earth and Planetary Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2004


  • Geoarchaeology
  • Palaeoenvironment
  • Playas
  • Pollen analysis
  • Thar desert

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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