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Entirely unexpected, but by no means unprecedented, a freshwater desert lake formed early last week at the base of the great dunes of Erg Chigaga in Morocco’s Sahara Desert.

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Erg Chigaga dunes are visible in the distance.

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There is a vast earth plateau that runs north of the dunes, bridging Erg Chigaga and the Anti-Atlas mountain ridge further north, the Jebel Bani. The plateau is normally an access route for vehicles reaching camp at the foot of the dunes.

This plateau became submerged after exceptionally heavy rainfall led to massive amounts of water running down from the Jebel Bani and into the Sahara Desert. Colleagues report that this is the first time in at least 7 years that they have seen such amounts of water there. However, as quickly as the water arrived, it disappeared. Ancient drived river tributaries in this region also filled with water.

A majestic example of the forces of nature…

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