Mystery Sand Formation (Desert Week 2011)

Monday, 20th June 2011 by

For our first post of Desert Week 2011, we’re travelling to the Grand Erg Oriental, or 'Great Eastern Sand Sea' of the Sahara desert in north-eastern Algeria, where we find a mysterious formation in the sand…

The image was taken in 2005, and shows what appears to be a 100 metre-long (328 ft) groove gouged from the desert sand. Your first thought might be that a plane crashed here, but there’s no sign of any wreckage. However, with the constantly shifting sand it's entirely possible that any evidence of a crash has simply been covered over, but then why would the gouge itself still be visible?

Zooming in closer we can see that the formation actually sits inside a huge rectangle that has been partially worn away by the gouge itself - suggesting that the rectangle was here before whatever made the huge impression showed up. Could something have been aiming for this spot, and if so, what for?

So what are we seeing here? Clearly this is not a natural formation - could it be a crash site after all? The results of a missile test? A small meteor impact? Or something else extra-terrestrial?

More info about the Grand Erg Oriental, as ever, is available on Wikipedia.

Thanks to hank via our submissions form!