Richat Structure Mauritania

Richat Structure Mauritania

In the midst of the vast, vacant Sahara desert, just outside of Ouadane, Mauritania, lies a 30-mile wide geological oddity known the Richat Structure, sometimes called the “Eye of Africa.” From space, this natural curiosity forms a distinct and unmistakable bulls-eye that once served as a geographical landmark for early astronauts as they passed over the Sahara.

Once thought to be an impact crater due to its circularity, the unusual formation is now widely believed to have been caused by the erosion of a geological dome formed by pressure from a bulb of molten magma below. The desert floor ‘blistered,’ and as the layers of rock were pushed up and fractured, millennia of weathering gradually levelled them flat again, exposing the structure’s distinctive concentric rings.

Things to do in Richat Structure Mauritania

Visiting the 50-km-diameter circular Richat structure is one of those geological features that are more clearly observed from space than from down on the ground, with this ‘eye of Africa’ a familiar landmark to astronauts since the earliest manned missions.

Once thought to be the result of a meteor impact, today researchers believe the Richat structure was caused by the process of geological uplift followed by erosion from wind and water. The onion-like formation is formed by concentric bands of resistant quartzite rocks form ridges, and between with valleys of less-resistant rock between them.

The dark area forms a plateau of sedimentary rock standing some 200 metres above the surrounding desert sands, with the peak of the outer rim of the structure some 485 metres above sea level.

The dunes around the Richat structure are part of the Ouarne (Erg Oudane), an immense body of sand stretching hundreds of kilometres to Mali, within which still stand some ancient Ksour.

A Ksour is a medieval settlement made up of towers, houses, and surrounding walls, placed along with trade centers of caravanning routes across the Sahara. The Ksours found in this vicinity were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1996.

How to get to Richat Structure Mauritania

Using a good conditioned 4×4 jeep you can drive from Oudane city to the Richat structure however you need to hire an experienced driver who can find his way to the Richat structure.

Where to stay in Richat Structure Mauritania

You can stay in Ouadane and drive to the Richat structure and some of the options to look out for include Auberge Verani and Auberge la gueila are local accommodation options to stay.

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