The Eye of Sahara

In Mauritania, hidden deep into the great Sahara desert, there is a huge and mysterious geologic formation that is hard to spot from ground level, walking around on Earth.

Acquired by Sentinel 2B on 2017-07-26

It turns out that we really discovered this incredible bull’s-eye in the sand only when we began sending humans into space when the Gemini IV mission (1965), a four-day orbit around Earth, the astronauts were asked to take photos of Earth’s terrain.

The Eye of the World, or Eye of Sahara more formally known as the Richat structure is a deeply eroded, slightly elliptical dome with a diameter of 40 kilometres and for a while, scientists did think that the Eye of the Sahara was an impact crater. But they didn’t find enough melted rock to make that guess hold water. Current theories suggest a much more complicated story behind this incredible natural formation.

Acquired by Sentinel 1A on 2017-07-27

The Eye’s formation began more than 600 million years ago, when molten rock pushed up toward the surface but didn’t make it all the way, creating a dome of rock layers. This also created fault lines circling and crossing the Eye. The molten rock also dissolved limestone near the center of the Eye, which collapsed to form a special type of rock called breccia.

A little after 100 million years ago, the Eye erupted violently. That collapsed the bubble partway, and erosion did the rest of the work to create the Eye of the Sahara that we know today. The rings are made of different types of rock that erode at different speeds. The paler circle near the center of the Eye is volcanic rock created during that explosion.

This fascinating structure is hard to reach on ground as it requires a lot of patience and resistence to the extremly hot temperatures of the Sahara desert, but the lucky few will be able to catch an unforgettable emotion.

7 thoughts on “The Eye of Sahara

  1. hi Fernando
    Do you know how I find out where to obtain this image of the Richat Structure for use on a project?
    many thanks for your help!

    1. Hi Sarah!

      If you want those specific images you can download them directly from the article without any concerns (credits are appreciated!).

      If you want to process other Sentinel-2 products in order to get other images you should download them from the proper web portal ( and filter Sentinel-2 L1c products over Mauritania.

      Here below the Richat Structure location for your purposes:,-6.1097787,4.77z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0xd35b5cae33d32f73!8m2!3d21.1269301!4d-11.4016494

  2. The eye of the Sahara is by no means an impact structure.
    The radial fault structures around the crater can only be explained by extra-terrestrial impact.
    I do hope that a study reveals Planar Deformed Feàtures (PDFs) to nail an impact source.

  3. I wonder what would happen if you fill the eye up with water maybe some answers to life or alien technology on how to travel in space like they do on star track it could be anything and its not gonna kill you all to try so yeah

  4. I wanna put the water from lake natron in the eye I have a gut feeling about this at least 100 gallons no less than that more if have to but start with 100 gallons

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