Tamanrasset River

This article is about the ancient river. For the city, see Tamanrasset. For other uses, see Tamanrasset (disambiguation). Outline of the main course of the Tamanrasett along with the present-day active Nile, Senegal, Niger, Sanaga and Congo.

The Tamanrasset River is an enormous palaeoriver believed to have flowed through West Africa as recently as 5000 years ago. The Tamanrasset River basin is thought to have been comparable with the present-day Ganges-Brahmaputra river basin in Asia.



Western side:

Eastern side:

  • Oued Tamanrasset


The Tamanrasett is thought to have flowed across the Sahara in ancient times from sources in the southern Atlas mountains and Hoggar highlands in what is now Algeria.

It is thought the river fed into the Cap Timiris Canyon, located off the coast of Mauritania, the canyon is located in waters three kilometres deep and is 2.5km wide in places.

The presence of the river is thought to have had wide-ranging implications for human migration from Central Africa to the Middle East, Europe, and Asia. Previously, the inhospitable Sahara desert was believed to have made a western route for migrating to Europe unviable.

Researchers believe that the ancient river became active during the African Humid Period, climate oscillations caused by the Earth’s precessional orbit around the Sun.

The palaeoriver was discovered using a Japanese orbital satellite system called Phased Array type L-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (PALSAR). Using microwave sensing, PALSAR can see below Saharan sands and detect the fossil water still flowing.... ...read more

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