The Eye of the Sahara, also known as the Richat Structure, is a large circular geological formation located in the middle of the desert., already in Mauritania, but not far from the Canary Islands. has no less 50 kilometers across It is believed to have formed by erosion and uplift, resulting in a type of dome that was later eroded.
While it may look like an impact crater at first glance (i.e. caused by a meteor hitting the ground), it is more of an example of a crater. A type of fold in rock layers exposed due to geological structure, geological processes and erosion, called symmetrical anticline.
It is one of the most incredible geological formations on the planet. In this Google Earth link can be seen in all its dimensions.
It’s an absolutely stunning place to see, both from the ground and from a bird’s eye view, but has also been thoroughly studied by geologists to understand exactly how this phenomenon came to be.
The Eye of the Sahara is located in a very remote and secluded part of this desert that scientists do not frequent. Therefore, this formation has not received much attention until now. Some astronauts observing it from space (where its configuration is best appreciated) noted its presence.it has become one of the most famous natural curiosities on the planet.
How was it formed?
The structure was probably formed by a process called “folding”, creating what is called a symmetrical anticline. Folding occurs when tectonic forces acting from both sides compress the sedimentary rock.: Rock can break if it’s cold and brittle, but bends if it’s hot enough. Upward folds are called anticlines, and downward folds are called synclines.
However, in an article published in 2014 African Journal of Earth Sciences, researchers have proposed a completely different formation explanation for the Eye of the Sahara. The authors believe that the presence of volcanic rock is proof of this. The molten rock was pushed to the surface before being eroded to form the rings we see today, taking the shape of a dome. The article suggested that the disintegration of the supercontinent Pangea may have affected these volcanic formations and tectonic changes.
The structure consists of a mixture of sedimentary and igneous rock. Erosion along the surface of the structure reveals hydrothermally altered fine-grained rhyolite and coarse-crystalline gabbro rocks. The rock types found in the rings are eroded at different rates, forming different colored patterns on the surface.. Large, sharply angled pieces of sedimentary rock called megabreccia contribute to the colorful, swirling irregularities that make up the formation.
Chosen as Eye of the Sahara one of the top 100 geological heritage sites It is defined by the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS).
Reference work: https://pubs.geoscienceworld.org/gsa/geology/article-abstract/33/8/665/103793/Rettling-the-Richat-enigma-Domining-and?redirectedFrom=fulltext
Contact address of the environment department: [email protected]
James Sean is a writer for “Social Bites”. He covers a wide range of topics, bringing the latest news and developments to his readers. With a keen sense of what’s important and a passion for writing, James delivers unique and insightful articles that keep his readers informed and engaged.