The Richat Structure

The eye of the Sahara would be the most mysterious thing on earth. Located in an isolated area of the Sahara desert in Mauritania, the Eye of the Sahara The Richat Structure is not what can be called a structure it is instead a vast circular formation.

Initially, it assumed to be a hole in the surface, but the recent photographs taken by the astronauts sent from space suggested that it is not a crater but a result of erosion that happened in geological time. If you’re walking by it, you won’t notice much of it.

The Eye of Sahara also known as the ‘Richat Structure ‘which is a bit oval and deeply eroded in the Sahara desert.

The size of this place (Sahara, Mauritania) is 50km wide, and the erosion has created several coil formations illustrated by the three rings dunking outward from the Richat Structure. The eye of the Sahara was so big but not discovered until the astronauts saw it from space.

Richat Structure image
Image Credit: Richat Structure

People also called the eye of the Sahara by the name ‘blue eye’ of Africa because, in some of the images taken by NASA, the structure looked blue.

No one till date has been able to find out the reason behind the formation of such concentric rings in the middle of the desert.

Since the formation is of circular and not too oval some theorized that it formed due to an asteroid strike, but this theory has been ridiculed and suggested that the actual reason behind the formation of the Richat Structure is a volcanic eruption.

And due to the lack of evidence of any igneous rock in that place, this theory too didn’t seem to work.

Another perspective is that the concentric rings of the Eye of Sahara are of equal distance from the core that might be symmetrical because it was human-made.

Many people still think that the eye of the Sahara is the doomed city of Atlantis. Though, Plato’s description of Atlantis does give an exact impression of the formation of the Richat Structure.

Plato described Atlantis as a round, divided into circles of land and water. When Atlantis hit by an earthquake, it became an impossible task for the voyagers to sail because the mud was preventing any movement to happen which made it harder for any sailor to cross the city from any part of the ocean.

Atlantis in Greek stands for- the island of Atlas. Plato also said that Atlantis laid in ’front of the pillars of Hercules.’

Richat Structure

However, it is unlikely to think of it as the city of Atlantis, but if we look into it like Plato’s description, it still is an exciting way to look into this theory.

There’s so much to learn, but due to the inaccessibility to this place and lack of researchers, this place hasn’t been much attention.

Hopefully, in the future, we’d get access to this place and find the answer regarding the actual reason for the formation of the eye of the Sahara or the Richat Structure.

The Future of the Eye

The eye of the Sahara lures both geologists and tourists. Several geologists fly to the Richat structure in order to research on the distinct geological aspect personally.

However, due to the lack of water in its surroundings and the location being in a sparsely populated area, the eye of the Sahara is in danger from humans.

That leaves the structure open to much threat of nature. The current erosion of the land is developing a massive threat to the landscape. Chances are there would be desert winds in the region, due to climate change triggers desertification in the area.

Richat Structure images

It is likely that in the near future, the eye of the Sahara would be swamped with dust & sand. Travellers in future might discover this stunning geological aspect buried in the desert.

Traces of Pangaea

The primitive rocks in the eye of the Sahara have proffered investigators with data about its foundation. The earliest creation of the Richat structure started when the supercontinent Pangaea began to rupture.

Right after when Pangaea burst, the water from the Atlantic Ocean began flowing into the region.

Even though Pangaea was gradually was in the process of bursting, magma from the surface of its depth started emerging from the earth’s mantle, which developed a round-shaped rocky roof encompassed by deposits of sandstone.

As erosion began dispersing on the igneous rocks and sandstones, and when the dome diminished, round edges were left behind, passing the eye of the structure its hollow circular shape. At present, the eye is slightly sunken under the level of the close site.

According to the scientist, the eye could have developed roughly 100 years ago. It is presumed that the Richat Structure’s main ring structure could be the corroded remnants.

Richat Structure photo

Whilst scientists haven’t settled down to this theory as they still have many questions to uncover concerning the structure. Two Canadian scientists have come up with a hypothesis on how the scientists might have established.

They asserted that the formation might have begun over 100 million years ago when the supercontinent, Pangaea, burst by the plate tectonics with South America and Africa being ripped apart from each other.

They said that the melted rock that drove upwards toward the earth’s exterior probably didn’t make it and this could have developed rock coatings in a roof that depicted like a massively grown pimple on the shell.

Richat Structure pic

This may have incited to create an error line that surrounded and cross the structure, and this may have broken down then and caused the formation of a rock known as Breccia.

Soon after 100 million years, the eye of Sahara would have vented in an aggressive manner, and the bubble might have collapsed partially, whilst corrosion would have done the remaining work and therefore concocted the eye of the Sahara.

The loop of the eye would have been developed from rocks of various kinds that wear away quickly that varied on time.

Sahara has nothing more to share than its sea of sands when the astronauts found the eye they have been very much interested in it ever since.

The eye is only one amongst a few stops in the sand, and it put an end to the monotonic nature. This is the reason why the astronauts are so fond of this phenomenon and have now become one of the chief attraction.

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