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Check out extraordinary images of the ‘eye of the Sahara’ captured from space

The unexplained

Check out extraordinary images of the ‘eye of the Sahara’ captured from space

The Richat structure, also known as the eye of the Sahara due to its peculiar shape, is a unique geographical feature with a diameter of almost 50 kilometers located in the desert, near the city of Ouadane, in northwest Mauritania.

It has a form of a concentric structure, like an onion cut in half, and was discovered in 1965 by NASA’s Gemini 4 mission.

The first hypotheses about its origin indicated that it was created by the impact of a meteorite millions of years ago.

However, several subsequent studies have found no evidence of this.

Currently, it is argued that the Eye of the Sahara is a formation with symmetrical structure of an anticline dome, created by the effect of erosion over millions of years.

The center of the structure is constituted by diverse types of rocks (volcanic, igneous, carbonatite and kimberlite) which were formed millions of years ago (between the Proterozoic and Ordovician eras).

What is surprising is that these types of formations are actually common and can be found all over the planet (for example there is one in Huesca, between the towns of Saganta and Estopiñán del Castillo), but this structure, located in the middle of the Saharan calls out for much more attention.

Scientists have found that in addition, some layers are harder than others and differential erosion makes it stand out.

So what do we know about this enigmatic feature on earth? Well, scientists are convinced that ‘the eye of the Sahara’ appeared about 500 or 600 million years ago.

In total, there are three versions to explain why it exists.

The first assumes that the ‘eye’ comes from an inactive volcano.

The second considers it the place of impact of a meteorite, while the third one points to the circle being the result of erosion.

However, academics see the last scenario as the most plausible.

But as I’ve always said, images say a million words, so here are some amazing photographs of the mysterious ‘Eye of the Sahara’.

Image credit

The Richat Structure, also known as the Eye of the Sahara and Guelb er Richat, is a prominent circular feature in the Sahara desert near Ouadane, west-central Mauritania. Astronauts aboard the International Space Station captured this image of a huge crater in Africa on Nov. 22, 2014. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Image credit: Roscosmos

Richat Structure, Mauritania from Landsat 7. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons


Ivan is editor-in-chief at, he also writes for Universe Explorers.
You may have seen him appear on the Discovery and History Channel.

  • Savatage (Always Deplorable)

    Well that’s pretty cool indeed… Never heard of it before in all my life.

    • Joe Amos

      Go onto Google Earth you will find it there.pretty cool though

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