Ramon Crater, or Makhtesh Ramon, is a geological feature of Israel's Negev desert located at the peak of Mount Negev, some 85 km south of the city of Beersheba. The landform is not actually an impact crater from a meteor, but rather is the world's largest makhtesh. The crater is 40 km long, 2-10 km wide and 500 meters deep, and is shaped like an elongated heart. The only settlement in the area is the small town of Mitzpe Ramon, which translates to "Ramon Observation Point", which is located on the northern edge of the crater. Today the crater and surrounding area forms Israel's largest national park, the Ramon Nature Reserve. Hundreds of millions of years ago, the Negev desert was covered by ocean water. Over time, the water started to recede northwards leaving behind a hump-shaped hill. This hump gradually became flattened by water and climatic forces. Approximately five million years ago, the Arava Rift Valley was formed by the process of erosion, as changing river rapids carved out the inner, softer rock overlay of the crater. The crater bottom continued to deepen at a much faster rate than the surrounding walls, which gradually increased in height. As the crater deepened, more layers of ancient rock were exposed with rocks at the bottom of the crater dating back some 200 million years. Today, the crater is 500m deep with the deepest point being Ein Saharonim (Saharonim Spring) which also contains the makhtesh's only natural water source which sustain much of the wildlife in the makhtesh including Onagers and Ibex.
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