The eye of the Sahara

A topographic reconstruction (scaled 6:1 on the vertical axis) from satellite photos. False coloring as follows: bedrock=brown, sand=yellow/white, vegetation=green, salty sediments=blue.

This has got to be one of the strangest places on Earth – but you couldn’t make much of it if you were just walking by. It’s located in a rather remote area, and the few people who noticed something odd about it didn’t know just how odd it really is because it’s hard to figure out from ground level; as a result this 50 km structure didn’t receive much attention until some astronauts made reports about it .

Photo by NASA.

Located in Mauritania, the Eye of the Sahara is not really what you would call a structure, but rather a huge circular formation; it was originally thought to be a crater, but the more recent and accepted theories suggest that it is in fact a product of erosion that took place in geological time.

You can also see it on Google Maps, it’s really a brilliant view, and you can zoom in and out for proportions (coordinates are 21.124217, -11.395569).


Also known as the Richat Structure, the Eye of the Sahara has been studied by numerous geologists, and a thorough paper has been published on the matter:

“The Richat structure (Sahara, Mauritania) appears as a large dome at least 40 km in diameter within a Late Proterozoic to Ordovician sequence. Erosion has created circular cuestas represented by three nested rings dipping outward from the structure. The center of the structure consists of a limestone-dolomite shelf that encloses a kilometer-scale siliceous breccia and is intruded by basaltic ring dikes, kimberlitic intrusions, and alkaline volcanic rocks” – small excerpt from the paper.

 

Picture sources: 1 2 3

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