Sahara Desert Shows Off Surprisingly Colorful Landscapes

sahara stone forest photo

Photo by NASA/Michael Taylor, Landsat Science Project Office
NASA's EarthObservatory is featuring this amazing photo this week, of Tassili n'Ajjer National Park in southeastern Algeria. What you're looking at is a huge area of raised rocks that jut from the sands below, with the different rock types shown in different colors. The park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and according to NASA, the colors reveal a complexity about the composition of the area. According to NASA, "This image is made from multiple observations by the Landsat 7 satellite in the year 2000. It uses a combination of infrared, near-infrared, and visible light to better distinguish between the park's various rock types. Sand appears in shades of yellow and tan. Granite rocks appear brick red. Blue areas are likely salts."

By using the different techniques for distinguishing the various types of rocks, a gorgeously colorful image surfaces.

Incredibly, much of this area was formed by flowing rivers and lakes long since dried up. The waters etched away at the sandstone, forming "stone forests" that look like rocky tree stumps, and natural arches reminiscent of what can be found in Utah.

Not only is this an area rich in geological history, but humans have left their mark on the rocks as well. There are around 15,000 engravings in Tassili n'Ajjer that date back as far as 10,000 B.C., and there are also home and burial mounds found in the rocky outcrops.

The Tassili n'Ajjer National Park is a gorgeous reminder of how our planet changes over time.

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