A columnar basalt rock pillar formed six crore years back from volcanic lava has been discovered during a road construction work at a village in Yavatmal district of Maharashtra, a leading geologist has said. This rare rock formation was found last week at Shibla-Pardi village in Wani-Pandhakawda area of the district, he said.
Talking to PTI, environmentalist and geologist Prof Suresh Chopane said, “It is a rare natural rock called columnar basalt formed from the lava of a massive volcanic eruption in Maharashtra that occurred 60 million years ago. The hexagon-shaped pillars were formed due to the shrinking of the lava.”
Chopane, a former member of the regional empowered committee of the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, said Wani area of Yavatmal district is geographically very ancient.
“In the same area, I had found 200-million-year-old strometolite (layered sedimentary formations) and six- million-year-old conch shell fossils near Pandharkavada and Maregaon tehsil,” he said.
Until 70 million years ago, there was an ocean on the now Vidarbha region of Maharashtra, he said.
“But 60 million years ago, during the late Cretaceous period, geographical events took place on the earth and from today’s Western Ghats, hot lava flowed to the region now located in Yavatmal district and central Vidarbha, known as Deccan trap,” he said.
The volcano covered an area of five lakh square kms in central India, he said, adding that in Maharashtra, 80 per cent of the rock formations are basalt igneous.
Chopane said that in India, St Mary’s Island in Karnataka is famous as a tourist destination for such columnar basalt.
“In Maharashtra, before Yavatmal, such rocks have been found in Mumbai, Kolhapur and Nanded…When hot lava flows into a river and suddenly cools down, it shrinks and becomes hexagon-shaped, forming such stone pillars called columnar basalt,” he said.
These rocks are very important from the geographical point of view and the administration should protect stone pillars and the area found there, he said.
He also claimed that Yavatmal district was inhabited by giant dinosaur-like creatures and animals 60 million years ago. There were dense forests, but due to this huge volcanic eruption in Maharashtra, all the forests and living creatures turned to ashes.