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The powerful crater that's made like no other

Crater Ramon in Israel is one of the only 'makhtesh' craters in the world.


October 12, 2016 | Latest Photo Prev Next
snowsnowPhoto: Sam Sandler photography / Shutterstock
October 12, 2016 | Latest Photo

A mass of rock and dust emerges from the ground, presiding like a king over his mountainous domain.

This is Crater Ramon, located in southern Israel. While most craters form when a meteor hits the Earth or a volcano erupts, this is a "makhtesh" crater, meaning it was formed by erosion.

Ancient rivers ran through the area, carving out soft rocks and leaving hard walls behind, which happened to shape this particular crater into a heart because even geology can be kind of cute sometimes.

These sorts of craters consist of steep walls of resistant rock surrounding a deep closed valley with limited vegetation and soil. They boast a variety of different colored rocks and diverse plants and animals, such as the Asian wild ass, the striped hyena and the Nubian ibex, which is why Israel made the crater and surrounding area into the country's largest national park, the Ramon Nature Reserve.

Makhteshes are a geological phenomenon unique to southern Israel and nearby regions, and Ramon is the world's largest makhtesh, making it sort of a big fish in a small but very unusual pond.

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Related Topics: Environment, National Parks