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A 50,000-year-old lake in India just turned pink and experts don’t know exactly why

A general view of Lonar crater sanctuary lake is pictured in Buldhana district of Maharashtra state on June 11, 2020. - The lake has turned pink in colour which is believed that when the water level goes down, the salinity increases and warm water gives a rise to algae that tends to absord sunlight and changes the colour of the water, local media reported. (Photo by Santosh JADHAV / AFP) (Photo by SANTOSH JADHAV/AFP via Getty Images)

(CNN) — What caused the lake to turn pink?

That was the question on people’s minds across India after Lonar Lake in the state of Maharashtra suddenly changed hues in recent days.

Experts believe that the change is likely due to either increased salinity in the water, the presence of algae or a combination of both — like parts of Utah’s Great Salt Lake or Lake Hillier in Australia.

Gajanan Kharat, a local geologist, said in a video posted to Maharashtra Tourism’s Twitter feed, that this has happened before, but was not as prominent.

“It’s looking particularly red this year because this year the water’s salinity has increased,” he said. “The amount of water in the lake has reduced and the lake has become shallower, so the salinity has gone up and caused some internal changes.”

Kharat said that researchers are also investigating if the presence of red algae caused the color change.

Samples are being sent to several labs, he said, and “once they have studied it we will be able to definitively say why the lake’s water has turned red.”

The lake, which is located about 500 kilometers (311 miles) east of Mumbai, formed after a meteorite hit the Earth some 50,000 years ago, according to CNN affiliate CNN News 18. It’s a popular tourist attraction and has been studied by scientists across the globe, CNN News 18 reported.

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