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Ouadane, Mauritania

Richat Structure

A geological bull's-eye visible from outer space 

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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, or the “Eye of Africa.” From space, this natural curiosity forms a distinct and unmistakable bull’s-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 what was once a geological dome. Over time, desert weather has caused the dome to gradually shed layers, resulting in the structure’s remarkable flatness.

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