Where did all the sand in the Sahara desert come from?

Sands of the Sahara Desert
Vast dunes of the Sahara Desert. Origin: Vaporised rock from planet Mars, Aptly named the “God Of War.”

All scholars hold the view that the primary source of the world’s quartz sand and sandstone deposits is granite rock – that is to say billions of years of weathering and erosion of granite outcrops created the sand that forms our beaches, sandy deserts and sandstone deposits globally.


No amount of time or erosion by rainwater could ever produce such vast quantities of pure quartz grains let alone dump them in one basic location to remain virtually unaltered for many millions of years. It doesn’t add up, especially when considering how granitic source rock rarely protrudes earth’s surface.

The vast sandy oceans comprising the Sahara look pristine, as though they were laid down fairly recently. That’s because they were!

Extraterrestrial Sands Extraterrestrial Sands by Gary Gilligan

The theory states that the planet Mars entered into hundreds of catastrophic close encounters with earth during historical times. During these encounters an incandescent molten Mars internally convulsed and ejected immeasurable quantities of vaporised rock, volatiles, dust and debris out into space – a natural by-product of planetary chaos. Vast swaths of rock vapour fell to earth (along with tons of other sedimentary material) where it condensed out of the atmosphere as tiny quartz grains. In other words, it rained sand!

Lots of it!

Deserts of the world.
Sahara Desert: A vast ocean of sand that quite literally rained down on North Africa only a few thousand years ago.

As the sand fell it ‘choked’ what was previously a verdant green paradise.

From lakes and grasslands with hippos and giraffes to a vast desert, North Africa’s sudden geographical transformation 5,000 years ago was one of the planet’s most dramatic climate shifts. The transformation took place nearly simultaneously across the continent’s northern half …


Desert sand Dunes
‘Pristine’ Extraterrestrial Sands of the great Sahara Desert. Credit: ruba_ch | Flickr.com

The reason why sand is relatively uniform in size is because, like rain, it fell from the sky!

Sahara Desert
Desert sands of the Sahara. Tiny fragments of rock (quartz crystals) that precipitated out of the atmosphere and rained down on earth.

As the sand grains fell they were coated in a submicroscopic coating of iron rich clay drawn from moisture in earth’s atmosphere – this is where sand gets its colour. Any variations would be down to density and saturation variations in the atmosphere. Post depositional processes would of course play a part, but quartz sand has nothing to do with the absurd “billions of years of erosion” from granitic rock.

The world's deserts
Sahara desert sands. Sand from above?

If sand is the result of millions of years of fluvial erosion (rainwater, stream flow, etc.) then how did it maintain its iron rich coatings? Moreover, if sand was initially born from granite as clear quartz crystals how on earth did the the gains become coated in the first place? For more detailed answers I refer you to my latest book … “Extraterrestrial Sands.”

Sand Dunes sahara
Part of the Sahara, ET sand dunes of the Tadrart Acacus, Western Libya.

There were numerous ET sand episodes around the globe. Many clouds falling in regions that, as with the Sahara, were once green and fertile such as the Rubʿ al-Khali, in Arabia.

Extraterrestrial Sands
Rubʿ al-Khali, Arabia. The Largest Extraterrestrial Sand Sea On The Planet. Credit: Nepenthes

Another such deposit would be the Thar Desert in India.

Sandy Deserts
Sunset on the dunes of the Great Indian Thar Desert.

And the coastal Namib desert in southern Africa.

Namib Desert
Sossusvlei Sand Dunes of the Namib Desert, Namibia, Africa. Its sand dunes, which at more than 300 meters high are among the tallest sand dunes in the world.

All fell from the sky!

Next time you dig out your bucket and spade and feel like making sandcastles on the beach have a thought for the origin of the tiny fragments of rock you are using for construction … sand from Mars. As too are large boulders, rocks, stones, pebbles, water, volatiles, dust and debris – material believed to be indigenous to earth, is largely from the planet that was once our home … Mars.

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