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Jun 1, 2012

Richat Structure - The Eye of Africa

The Richat Structure
By Google Maps - Imagery (c) TerraMetrics
The Richat Structure, or the Eye of Africa, as it’s also called, is a huge geological formation 50 kilometers across. Smack dab in the middle of the Sahara Desert in Mauritania, this feature that looks remarkably like an eye was immediately noted by the very first astronauts, as it is glaringly obvious in the otherwise rather featureless Sahara.

The giant eye was originally assumed to be the ancient impact site of a large meteorite. However, geologists failed to find any evidence of such a collision despite extensive field studies. Scientists now believe it is a highly symmetrical geological dome, eroded by desert winds to give it its onion-like appearance.

According to a more… imaginative theory, the Richat Structure might be the blast crater of an ancient and incredibly powerful bomb. Considering that even the most powerful modern thermonuclear warheads ever built would have been nowhere near enough to create a crater like this, that would have been an impressive achievement indeed.

Today, there is little human habitation in the Richat Structure, although traces of human presence can be spotted going thousands of years back in time. Some companies offer tours of the place, and there is even a hotel in the middle of the eye. Nothing luxurious, but it offers basic accommodations for adventurous tourists.

A closer view of the Richat Structure

And to give you an idea of the scale of the thing:

The scale of the Eye of Africa
By Google Maps - Imagery (c) TerraMetrics


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