Ramon crater, Israel

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Ramon crater, Israel
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Ramon Crater is the world's biggest karst crater in Israel's Negev Desert. The Ramon Crater is 40 kilometers long and 2 to 10 kilometers wide, shaped like a elongated heart.
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Information about Ramon crater

Ramon Crater is one of the most spectacular geological features of Israel's Negev Desert. Despite the seemingly astrophysical implication of its English name, it is actually not a meteoritic impact crater but rather the world's largest karst erosion cirque. It is located at the peak of Mount Negev, some 85 kilometers south of the city of Beer-Sheva. The Ramon Crater is 40 kilometers long and 2 to 10 kilometers wide, shaped like an elongated heart. It is part of the Ramon Nature Reserve that includes the surrounding mountains. The only settlement in the area is the small town of Mitzpe Ramon (in Hebrew: ???? ???? - Ramon Observation Point) located on the northern edge of the crater. The name Ramon comes from the Arabic word Ruman meaning "Romans", and is probably linked to an ancient trading route once used by the Roman Empire.

The crater's formation began hundreds of millions years ago when the ocean that covered the Negev Desert began to recede northward. First, there was a hump-shaped hill; water and other climatic forces slowly and steadily flattened the curve on top. Much later (only some 5 million years ago), the Arava Rift Valley formed and rivers changed their course. As they did so, they carved out the inside of the crater.

In the desert, the main effect of water is the erosion it causes, rather than the rainfall itself, which quickly runs off. The crater bottom deepens fast while the walls retain their vertical angle, gradually increasing in height. As the crater deepened, lower and more ancient rock strata were exposed; at the bottom of Ramon Crater some rocks are as old as 200 million years.

The crater is 500 m. deep, and encompasses a diversity of rocks with fantastic colors and forms. Impressive mountains rise at the borders of the crater - Har Ramon (Mt. Ramon) in the southern end, Har Ardon (Mt. Ardon) in the northeastern end, and two beautiful table mountains - Har Marpek (Mt. Marpek), and Har Katom (Mt. Katom) are along the southern wall.

Some clay hills have striking yellow and red colors. Several hillsides in the northeastern corner of the crater were once entirely covered by spiral ammonite fossils, ranging from the size of snails to the size of tractor wheels. However, so many souvenir hunters have collected the fossils that today only a few small ones remain. Ramon Crater Enlarge Ramon Crater

Ein Saharonim (Saharonim Spring), to the north of ha-Minsara, is the lowest point in the crater and contains its only natural water source. On a hill within the crater, on the other side of Ein Saharonim, stand the ruins of a large prehistoric stone structure known as Khan Saharonim. Because Ramon Crater lies along the ancient Spice Trail, a trade route used by the Nabateans 2,000 years ago, the Khan Saharonim ruins served the traders and their pack animals as a way station (khan is the Arabic word for a caravansary) before proceeding further westwards to the Mediterranean seaport city of Gaza.

The Ein Saharonim springs are a vital resource for local wildlife. They are regularly visited by Asiatic wild asses (also called onagers) and by ibex (mountain goats). Ibex often climb from the crater to the nearby town of Mitzpe Ramon and walk along the bordering streets, heedless of human onlookers.

This information was provided by Wikipedia under the GNU license. Read more about this placemark on Wikipedia.

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