Sahara Territory


Mauritania map.

Total area: +/- 1030000 km2.
Saharan area: +/- 900000 km2 (87%).
Lowest point: -3 meters (Sebkha Ndrhamcha, north-east of Nuakchott).
Highest point: 910 meters (Kediet ej Jill, near Zuérate and F'Dérick).

Mauritania presents a generally flat territory, where some plateaus and many isolated peaks emerge. The immense majority of the mauritanian territory is desert, existing the Sahel only on a rather thin strip along the southern border. During the last decades, an extended and severe drought has been increasing aridity in the south, reducing the sahelian area. The central region of the country is occupied by sand dunes and plateaus as the Adrar. In the north, the desert terrain is predominantly composed of hammadas and regs, with some isolated sands.
Desert rocks in Mauritania are rich in copper and iron, that give them a dark color that contrasts with the surrounding sands. Gold, gypsum, phosphates and petroleum are also present in Mauritania.

In the mauritanian ergs, the predominancy of the harmattan wind created fields of incredibly parallel seif dunes. Among these, other type of dune formations appear sometimes, creating an interesting contrast of textures.

Pattern of dunes in the mauritanian desert. Pattern of dunes in the mauritanian desert.

Pattern of dunes in the mauritanian desert. Pattern of dunes in the mauritanian desert.

The images below show the landscape found when reaching the Adrar plateau from the north.

The landscape approaching the Adrar plateau from the north. The landscape approaching the Adrar plateau from the north.

Left image: a stony pass in the northern border of the Adrar plateau, a somewhat mountainous region of around 50000 km2. The Adrar contains many regs that are a hard test for the vehicle's suspensions and their drivers.

Right image: the concentric structure of Guelb er Richat is a prominent feature in the eastern part of the Adrar plateau, it is also known as the "Eye of the Sahara". This structure is a deeply eroded, slightly elliptical geological dome, that has around 40 km in diameter. Previously considered as the result of a meteorite impact, several studies have concluded that this is instead a symmetrical structure of an anticlinal dome that has been exposed after millions of years of erosion.

Differential erosion of resistant layers of quartzite has created some high-relief, almost circular cuestas. The center of the structure consists of a siliceous breccia covering an area that is at least 3 km in diameter. Exposed within the interior of the Guelb er Richat structure are a variety of intrusive and extrusive igneous, volcanic rocks. Basalt, kimberlite, alkalines, carbonatites and limestone are some elements that can be found on this structure.

The rugged stony terrain of the Adrar. The concentric structure of Guelb er Richat.

Left image: a beautiful place in the Adrar plateau where some stalactites are present. The Adrar is known for its beautiful gorges, where vegatation and some water can be found.

Right image: satellite view showing a relatively fertile valley with a guelta present, located on the course of one of the oueds that cross the Adrar plateau, where some oases exist.

A beautiful place in the Adrar. Satellite view showing a valley with a guelta in the Adrar.

Canyons, mesas, sand dunes and sahelian vegetation inhabit this area of Mauritania, which is so worthy as other areas that have been declared as national parks in another countries.

The landscape in the Adrar. The landscape in the Adrar.

In the area known as Aratane, impressive rock formations appear in the cliffs that run along Ualata, Tichit and Kiffa, and disembogue into a lower sandy plain within these three towns.

Rock formations in Aratane.

Mauritania Ethnography


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