The Eye of Africa

3 Apr

The ‘Eye of Africa’ (also known as the Eye of the Sahara) lies within the large east-African country of Mauritania, out in the Sahara Desert. Properly known as the Richat Structure, it is easy to see where its nickname comes from. Looking at it from above, it looks a lot like a big blue eye staring out of the ground. Here’s a picture of the Richat Structure:

Satellite image of the Richat Structure

Satellite image of the Richat Structure

Location of the structure in Mauritania

Location of the structure in Mauritania

Distant satellite image of Mauritania - the structure is still visble

Distant satellite image of Mauritania – the structure is justvisible, even from this far away

It is about 40 kilometers in diameter, and as you can see from the above picture, it is highly visible in satellite pictures.  So, how was this geological wonder formed? Researchers aren’t entirely sure. It was initially thought to have formed as the result of an asteroid impact, but scientists haven’t found any evidence for extraterrestrial involvement, other than its circular appearance.

richat4

Zoomed-in image of the Richat Structure from Google Maps

Geologists now believe that it is most likely to be a very symmetrical ‘geologic dome’. Wikipedia’s summary of a dome is this:

In structural geology, a dome is a deformational feature consisting of symmetrically-dipping anticlines; their general outline on a geologic map is circular or oval. The strata in a dome are upwarped in the center; if the top of a dome is eroded off, the result will be a series of concentric strata that grow progressively older from the outside-in, with the oldest rocks exposed at the center.’

No matter what led to the creation of it, the Richat Structure looks amazing, and I’m hoping that I will get to go and visit it one day.

3 Responses to “The Eye of Africa”

  1. Stephanie April 3, 2013 at 10:16 pm #

    Wow, I have seen pictures of this before but never realized it was so big! A dome sounds like a plausible explanation, considering the majority of rocks are sedimentary. I believed it was also subjected to low-temp hydrothermal alteration. Anyways, nice post and great use of maps!

    • Lisa H April 3, 2013 at 10:23 pm #

      Thanks Stephanie 🙂 I’ve been following your blog, I really like it… keep up the good work!

      • Stephanie April 4, 2013 at 7:45 am #

        Thank you Lisa! I look forward to reading more from your blog as well 🙂

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: