The Richat Structure, Mauritania
Episode #8 of the course “Natural Wonders of the World”
In the bare sands of the Sahara Desert is a near-circular geological structure that is clearly visible from space. Commonly called the “Eye of the Sahara” or the Richat Structure, it seems to be a geological dome with a series of concentric trenches that measures nearly 25 miles long. Throughout history, theorists have guessed that the circles were caused by an astrological impact or volcanic eruption, but the more recent theory is that the circles are caused by a series of evaporations, elevation, and hydrothermal erosions of native rocks.
The trenches in the Richat Structure are as long as 1000 feet, but generally span only about 2.5 feet wide. The rocks throughout different parts of the structure are dated to be as old as 100 million years and include layers of quartz-sandstone and limestone. The structure is elevated about 400 feet above sea level, and the winds create a tunnel effect that leaves the Richat Structure swept free of Sahara sand.
The Richat Structure is easily viewable from space and has gained increasing attention as astronauts and satellites are able to capture images that assist with research as well as shock and entertain onlookers. The shape and seeming order to the structure’s circles have caused some people to question if they could be connected with descriptions of the lost city of Atlantis left by Plato. According to theory, the Sahara Desert geographically would have been different in prehistoric times, and the structure could somehow be connected with the legend of Atlantis.
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