Erosion Exposes Curving Sedimentary Beds In The Land Of Terror

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The harsh terrain of the Tanezrouft Basin earns it an ominous nickname: Land of Terror. A rough wilderness of stone and shifting dunes constantly blasted by relentless wind, this is a land of rugged beauty and geology laid bare.

Long ago, water eroded the canyons, basins, and plateaus of this basin in the Algerian Sahara. Now, wind continues to blast and polish exposed sedimentary rock, revealing concentric loops bands like sanding highlights the beauty of wood grain. Steep canyon walls tower 250 to 500 meters above the surroundings, while dunes migrates across the land.


This image is of the radar reflectivity as observed by the European Space Agency's Envisat satellite. The rougher a surface is, the brighter it is so that faults are brilliantly white, while soft, sanded rocks are darker. The image is a composite taken in three passes on March 23, 2009, June 1, 2009 and September 14 2009, capturing the dynamic landscape as bedrock is eroded into sediment, and sediment deposited into shifting dunes. The colours reflect changes between each radar pass.

Image credit: ESA. Related reading: Envisat captures the volcanic landslides and agricultural rotations in Ecuador.