We con­tin­ue our series of sto­ries about amaz­ing places on the plan­et. Today we will vis­it Mau­ri­ta­nia and look at the famous eye of the plan­et. The famous eye of the Sahara — the ring struc­ture Richat with a diam­e­ter of 50 kilo­me­ters is vis­i­ble even from space. We will try to find out what caused this beau­ti­ful for­ma­tion — you will find many inter­est­ing facts and pho­tos

richat structure

Entry relat­ed to place: Africa

Ini­tial­ly, the the­o­ry was put for­ward that the Richat struc­ture is a crater from a huge mete­orite, but it is most like­ly that this is the result of cen­turies of ero­sion. The Richat Struc­ture is an ancient geo­log­i­cal arti­fact locat­ed in the mid­dle of the Maur Adrar Desert in West­ern Sahara, Africa. The ear­li­est space mis­sions used the site as a land­mark, off-road safari enthu­si­asts staged their com­pe­ti­tions here, and sci­en­tists are still active­ly argu­ing about the ori­gin of the struc­ture. This place can be safe­ly includ­ed in the list of “The most mys­te­ri­ous places on the plan­et”

Here’s what it looks like Richat pic­tured by NASA:

And here is how the struc­ture looks if it is moved away — we see the human eye
mauritania richat

The the­o­ry of a mete­orite hit­ting this place could not explain such a flat­ness of the crater floor, so the most accept­ed expla­na­tion is that the vol­canic dome was erod­ed, which grad­u­al­ly expand­ed its rocks, cre­at­ing the cur­rent onion shape

This pho­to­graph of the Richat struc­ture was tak­en from a satel­lite. The pic­ture was tak­en with the ASTER 7 radiome­ter, unusu­al col­ors are due to the effect of ther­mal emis­sion
eye of the sahara

See also
Untouched nature by David Schultz

This satel­lite image shows a topo­graph­ic recon­struc­tion of the struc­ture. Yel­low in the image is sand, brown is bedrock, green is plants, and blue is sed­i­ment
richat mauritania

The struc­ture was formed grad­u­al­ly, ring by ring. The age of the old­est Richat ring is approx­i­mate­ly 500–600 mil­lion years

Guel Er-Rishat seems to be a remote and inac­ces­si­ble area, but it is not. There are many trav­el com­pa­nies offer­ing tours here, off-road safaris are espe­cial­ly pop­u­lar. Here are some great exam­ples of such jeep rac­ing

Sur­pris­ing­ly, in the heart of Richat is a small hotel. There is no lux­u­ry here, but the con­di­tions for tired tourists are quite good.