Erongo Massif, Namibia
The dark heart in this Landsat 7 image from 2003 is the Erongo Massif, a prominent, sheer-walled semicircular mountain 30 kilometers in diameter. The massif rises 1,200 meters above the Namib Desert to the west and a mixed woodland savannah to the east. The mountain is an eroded relic of a volcano that was active some 140 to 150 million years ago but collapsed upon itself with the weight of the overlying magma. Eons of erosion by wind and wind-blown sand gradually exposed the long-dead volcano’s core of granite and basalt. Minerals have been collected in the Erongo region for nearly 90 years, including some of the finest aquamarine, schorl, and jeremejevite. The area has a confluence of ecosystems that are home to a vast array of plant, reptile, mammal, and bird species, some endemic to Namibia.