Known as the Richat Structure, the Eye of the Sahara is one of the most interesting and impressive geological formations. It is in the Sahara Desert, stretches for 40 km, and looks like a bullseye. The eye is so huge that it can be seen from space and astronauts use it as a visual landmark. It was first photographed by Gemini Project astronauts in the 1960s.
Initially, geologists believed that the Eye of the Sahara was the result of a meteor crash. They thought that the crater in its middle must have been the work of an object from space falling with an immense speed. However, experts later realized that the Eye was all naturally formed making it even more extraordinary.
The Eye of the Sahara began forming when Pangea started to separate. Some of the rocks from the Eye are nearly 100 million years old. This means that the Eye was here before humans and even before life on Earth started.
Although the Western world realized the Eye’s existence in the 60s, local tribes were aware of the formation for centuries.
The Eye’s formation history is interesting, to say the least. It goes back to a time when the Sahara was not a desert but an oasis with flowing water and greenery. The Eye’s landmass first surfaced when the volcanic activity beneath the Earth pushed the land upwards. This push resulted in the rings around the Eye.
After some time winds and water erosion corrupted the rings and the land began to settle which resulted in eye formation. Due to the state of the Sahara before it was a desert, some believe that the Eye is actually the remains of the lost city of Atlantis. While this is nothing but a conspiracy theory, it shows the mythical and cultural influence of the Eye.
Nonetheless, whether it was Atlanteans or not, humans lived in or near the Eye at some point. Archeologists found handmade tools in the outermost ring of the Eye suggesting that a group of people made the Eye of the Sahara their home.
Today, the Eye of the Sahara exists in the desert by itself without any life in or near it but people can still visit it freely. It is one of the 100 geological heritage sites which the International Union of Geological Science put together. Although the Eye is under protection, geologists fear that due to climate change, the Eye will fully be under sand in the future.