Earth Observatory HomeNASAEarth Observatory HomeData and ImagesFeaturesNewsReferenceMissionsExperimentsSearch
NASA's Earth Observatory
 Earth Observatory Navigation Bar
  New Images

Anti-Atlas Mountains, Morocco
Anti-Atlas Mountains, Morocco Click here to view full image (1704 kb)

The Anti-Atlas Mountains of northern Africa and the nearby Atlas mountains were created by the prolonged collision of the African and Eurasian tectonic plates, beginning about 80 million years ago. Massive sandstone and limestone layers have been crumpled and uplifted more than 4,000 meters in the High Atlas and to lower elevations in the Anti-Atlas. Between more continuous major fold structures, such as the Jbel Ouarkziz in the southwestern Anti-Atlas, tighter secondary folds (arrow) have developed.

Earlier, the supercontinent of Pangea rifted apart to form precursors to the Mediterranean and the Atlantic Ocean (Beauchamp and others, 1996). In those seas sands, clays, limey sediments, and evaporite layers (gypsum, rock salt) were deposited. Later, during the mountain-building plate collision, the gypsum layers flowed under the pressure and provided a slippery surface on which overlying rigid rocks could glide (Burkhard, 2001). The broad, open style of folds seen in this view is common where evaporites are involved in the deformation. Other examples can be found in the Southern Zagros of Iran and the Sierra Madre Oriental of Mexico.

Information Sources:
Beauchamp, W., Barazangi, M., Demnati, A., and El Alji, M., 1996, Intracontinental rifting and inversion: Missour Basin and Atlas Mountains, Morocco: Tulsa, American Association of Petroleum Geologists Bulletin, v. 80, No. 9, p. 1459-1482.
Burkhard, Martin, 2001, Tectonics of the Anti-Atlas of Morocco -- Thin-skin/thick-skin relationships in an atypical foreland fold belt. University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland: (accessed 1/29/02).

STS108-711-25 was taken in December, 2001 by the crew of Space Shuttle mission 108 using a Hasselblad camera with 250-mm lens. The image is provided by the Earth Sciences and Image Analysis Laboratory at Johnson Space Center. Additional images taken by astronauts and cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA-JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth.

Back to: Newsroom

Also see
Visible Earth

Latest Images
View Images Index

Salt Lake City, Utah, Perspective View
  Salt Lake City, Utah, Perspective View

Monitoring the Spread of West Nile Virus with Satellite Data
  Monitoring the Spread of West Nile Virus with Satellite Data

Winter and Summer Views of the Salt Lake Region
  Winter and Summer Views of the Salt Lake Region

Subscribe to the Earth Observatory
About the Earth Observatory
Please send comments or questions to:
Responsible NASA official: Yoram Kaufman

The above content is a copy of the original posting of this article as it appeared on
Contact information regarding its posting in this archive is below:
Send questions or comments about this web page to the NASA Responsible Official at
Curator: Earth Sciences Web Team
Notices: Web Accessibility and Policy Notices, NASA Web Privacy Policy