It's not hard to see why people think the Sahara Desert's most stunning geological phenomenon is a gift from outer space.
The Richat system – poetically known as the Eye of the Sahara – looks like the swirling scars of a massive impact on Earth.
NASA describes The 30-mile (50km) long structure, located in Mauritania, is „a conspicuous bull's eye in an otherwise featureless expanse of desert”.
Thanks to its remarkable view from space, the space agency points out that the structure has been a useful landmark for astronauts since the earliest space missions.
Many theories have been put forward over the years to explain this paradoxical appearance, including the remains of the lost city of Atlantis.
Proponents of this sinister hypothesis argue The setting closely resembles Plato's descriptions of the legendary city.
However, we must emphasize that these claims are mere conspiracy fodder, and there is no evidence that Atlantis existed beyond the realm of Greek philosophy.
A photo of the structure captured on a digital camera by a NASA astronaut in 2011(NASA)
A more plausible explanation is that the eye was left with an enormous impact crater by a meteorite or asteroid in the early years of our planet. But even that was denied by experts.
Instead, the broad consensus is that Richard (or eat – meaning „feathers” in the local dialect) formed when a volcanic dome hardened and then eroded over time, exposing onion-like layers of rock.
The structure is believed to have been formed by uplift of rock layers, which may be caused by tectonic forces or magmatic activity. GeosciencesNotes.
Over the years, wind and water erosion carved the landscape, exposing the rich layers of rock we see today.
A false-color Landsat image of the eye and its surroundings(NASA Earth Observatory)
NASA furthers this theory, but Adds An eye is often a raised geologic dome, also called a dome front, that consists of a fold in rock layers.
Over time, varying rates of erosion between the structure and the rock types in the surrounding landscape removed the softer layers, exposing the more resistant layers thereby forming the ring shape.
Whatever its precise origin, the stunning structure continues to inspire awe and admiration around the world – and, thanks to its staggering size, beyond the world.
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