25 strangest sights on Google Earth

25 strangest sights on Google Earth

Google Earth compiles images from various sources, from satellites in geosynchronous orbit (opens in new tab)that snap low-resolution photos from tens of thousands of miles above Earth, to satellites closer to Earth that capture higher-resolution shots, and even aerial photos taken from airplanes, kites, drones and even balloons. Anyone who gets the program has access to the imagery, and archaeologists have made use of this valuable resource.

Google Earth reveals some bizarre locations, including a military aircraft graveyard, an ant polka-dot pattern, enigmatic buildings etched into the Gobi Desert, and even a phantom island in the South Pacific. Check out some of the weirdest ones right here.

Sprawling swastika 

This swastika-shaped geoglyph is one of more than 50 that researchers have found in northern Kazakhstan, in Central Asia. While many of the geoglyphs were made of earthen structures, the Swastika sign was made of wood. The geoglyphs appear to be 2,000 years old. Swastikas at the period were prevalent in Europe and Asia and were, of course, unrelated to any political ideologies.

The island in a lake, on an island, in a lake, on an island

Given that it is an island-in-a-lake-on-an-island-in-a-lake-on-an-island, this Google Earth picture is both eye- and mouth-watering. Yes, this picture of a small island in a crater lake on an island named Volcano Island in a lake called Taal Lake(opens in new browser) on the Philippine island of Luzon was taken by Google Earth. This occurrence was reportedly believed to be the biggest of its kind observed by Google Earth for years. But it turns out that honor belongs to a 4-acre piece of ground in northern Canada, where it’s highly unlikely that anyone has ever set foot.

Weird Wheels

Google Earth has discovered some ancient artwork carved into the surface of the globe, including geometric structures in the form of wheels that may be 8,500 years old, making them older than Peru’s Nazca Lines geoglyphs. Some of these spoked patterns that adorn Jordan’s Azraq Oasis appear to be arranged so that they line up with the winter solstice dawn. Wheel structures, also known as “works of the old men,” have been the subject of an investigation by a group of researchers with the Aerial Photographic Archive for Archaeology in the Middle East (APAAME), using satellite images accessible through Google Earth.

The experts have discovered that the form of the wheels varies, with some having spokes that spread from the center, others having just one or two bars in place of spokes, and still others not at all circular but rather structured like squares, rectangles, or triangles.

The spokes on the wheels in this picture, which are in the Azraq Oasis and may be aligned with the winter solstice dawn, are oriented southeast to northwest.

Bull’s eye

One of these “wheels” in the Middle East has the appearance of a bull’s-eye, with three triangles facing in the direction of the eye and short stone piles going from the triangles to the wheel. It is described as “a central bull’s-eye tomb with, in this case, three triangles with at least a part of a connecting line of stone heaps running to the center” by David Kennedy of the University of Western Australia(opens in new tab), who also co-directs the project.

Mysterious pyramid?

This Google Earth picture displays an anomaly that some claim could be a pyramid that hasn’t been unearthed. In the past five years, Google Earth has identified dozens of anomalies in Egypt, but it is unclear whether they are natural characteristics or man-made buildings. Although more excavations are required, the scale and quantity of excavations have been constrained by Egypt’s security and fiscal conditions.

Egyptian pyramids?

Egypt’s crumbling temples or geographical features?

Phantom Island

A Manhattan-sized island in the South Pacific was “undiscovered” in 2012 by a team of Australian experts. North of New Caledonia, an enigmatic location known as Sandy Island had appeared on maps. Even Google Earth displayed it as a dark circle. But instead of firm ground, open ocean was what they discovered when scientists floated there in November 2012.

The researchers provided an explanation for why the fictitious landmass had been depicted on some maps for more than a century, attributing it to some human mistake and a potential pumice raft, in an obituary(opens in new tab) for the island that was released in April 2013.

Puzzling Pentagram

A large pentagram, approximately 1,200 feet (366 meters) in circumference, has been etched into the Earth’s surface on the wind-swept steppes of central Asia, in a remote region of Kazakhstan. On Google Maps(opens in new page), the online counterpart to the more comprehensive Google Earth, the five-pointed star enclosed in a circle that is situated on the southern side of the Upper Tobol Reservoir is clearly visible.

Numerous online remarks associated the website with underworld dwellers, sects that practice evil, or demon worship. The pentagram is actually the perimeter of a star-shaped park; it is delineated by roads that are now covered in trees, which makes the star shape even more obvious in overhead photographs.

Abandoned launch sites

During a phase of the Cold War, from 1954 to the 1970s, Nike missiles, hypersonic surface-to-air missiles, were stationed ready to fire at close to 300 locations across the United States. Even nuclear weapons were carried by some of those rockets. With the development of long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles(opens in new tab), those weapons were rendered useless. (ICBMs).

In order to prevent the abandoned Nike missile launch sites from disappearing due to redevelopment, natural regrowth, or military repurposing, David Tewksbury, a GIS (geographic information system) expert at Hamilton College in New York, set out to keep a pictorial record of them. He wants to create a georeferenced catalog that anyone can use to look up the locations of Nike missiles in Google Earth.

The Oahu Defense Area in Hawaii, one of those locations, is depicted here in 1968. The location once had open-air missile launchers and embankments separating pairs of launch locations.

Desert Breath

A circular gateway leading to a different universe? Maybe a communication from aliens? Or was it a historical memorial to a magical being? Desert Breath is a piece of public art that is situated near the Red Sea’s shoreline in the barren Egyptian desert. The 100,000 square meter (100,000 square foot) piece was made in March 2007 by Danae Stratou, Alexandra Stratou, and Stella Constantinides to honor “the desert as a state of mind, a landscape of the mind,” according to the artists’ website.(opens in new tab).

Riddled with holes

The six UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Syria, one of the earliest continuously inhabited regions of the planet, have all been damaged by the civil conflict, which has put hundreds of archaeological sites in danger. Most of this damage has been captured on satellites, with some of the strangest imagery depicting wreckage in Apamea. The entire old Roman city there has been pockmarked with holes excavated by looters since the start of the civil war, according to Google Earth photos.

In 2013, Live Science quoted Emma Cunliffe, an archaeology researcher at Durham University in England who had recently released a report(opens in new tab) detailing the destruction of archaeological sites in Syria. “It looks like the surface of the moon,” she said. “The region that was plundered in eight months, , the looted area exceeded the total excavated area.”

Lake of blood?

A blood-red lake can be found outside of Sadr City, Iraq, at 33.396157° N and 44.486926° E (opens in new browser). The color of this peculiar body of water has no formal reason as of yet.

Ant-sy Art

An unusual polka-dot design near the Grand Canyon’s north rim cinder cone volcano known as Vulcan’s Throne may have a straightforward explanation: ants. Red harvester ants are found in the wilderness surrounding the Grand Canyon, it turns out. (Pogonomyrmex barbatus).

These pesky critters can create nesting mounds spanning some 47 inches (120 centimeters) across and are typically surrounded by bare ground up to 108 square feet (10 square meters), according to physicist Amelia Carolina Sparavigna, a specialist in image processing and satellite imagery analysis at the Politecnico of Torino in Ital. In a scientific article published online on January 11, 2016(opens in new tab), Sparavigna explains her hypothesis; the paper has not yet undergone peer review. The overhead pattern of strewn circles may be caused by the mounds, but Sparavigna notes that ground proof is required.

Island in a lake

A small, four-acre patch of ground in Canada lies at precisely 69.793° N and 108.241° W and is known as the largest “island, in a lake, on an island, in a lake, on an island” in the globe.(opens in new tab). A small lake that is surrounded by a slightly bigger island has a nameless island in the middle of it that is fashioned like a tiny tilde. That is situated inside one of a string of long finger lakes, 75 miles north from Victoria Island’s southern shore, a feature of territory in Northern Canada.

If not for the meticulous trolling of Google Earth by map nerds all over the world, this tiny “sub-sub-sub island” would never have acquired its peculiar designation. Most likely, no person has ever physically entered the area.

The boneyard

U.S. military aircraft are sent to the Davis Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona, to crash-land. Dubbed “the boneyard,” this 2,600-acre cemetery of steel at coordinates 32 08’59.96″ N, 110 50’09.03″W(opens in new tab) is closed to the general public, but Google Earth provides a high-resolution glimpse of what’s inside: virtually every plane the military has flown since World War II — from the B-52 StratoFortress(opens in new tab) to the F-14 Tomcat — in various stages of decay.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ “Learning to Fly” music video features the boneyard at Davis Monthan as the background. The band was seen playing in front of different wrecked planes.

Biggest word?

The sand of al Futaisi Island, an island he controls in the Persian Gulf, has been inscribed with the name of Hamad bin Hamdan al Nahyan, a wealthy Sheikh and part of Abu Dhabi’s governing family. The letters HAMAD may be the biggest in the world at half a mile tall and two miles long combined, but they are still visible from orbit.

In contrast to how words inscribed in sand typically behave, these letters are big enough to create rivers that can withstand the advancing tide. In fact, the water can be seen flowing through the letters all the way to the M at the time these satellite images were obtained.

Wild view elephants

Have you ever feared you might never get to see an African elephant group in the wild? Fortunately, satellites photographed a group moving in Chad at coordinates 10.903497 N, 19.93229 E in a few high-resolution photos.(opens in new tab).

Alien bunker?

Near Mesa Huerfanita, New Mexico, two sizable diamonds encircled by a pair of overlapping circles have been discovered carved onto the arid floor. According to author John Sweeney, the location designates a secret Church of Scientology shelter.

According to their website, Scientology “is a religion that offers a precise path leading to a complete and certain understanding of one’s true spiritual nature and one’s relationship to self, family, groups, Mankind, all life forms, the material universe, the spiritual universe and the Supreme Being,” according to the organization’s website. According to reports, these markings on the desert floor are there to direct these scientologists as they make their way back to Earth after escaping a celestial “Armageddon,” according to the Daily Mail.(opens in new tab). Without a doubt, the emblems will likely remain a mystery.

Gobi Desert

Recent Google Earth images have shown a variety of enigmatic designs and buildings etched into the Gobi Desert in China. Experts claim that this is a covert military installation, and the buildings are used for a range of operations, including the calibration of surveillance satellites, the testing of radar equipment, and the testing of weaponry.

It is most likely a Yagi antenna array, a device used for weather monitoring and other meteorological research, as it is the most detailed feature, an intricate grid of precisely straight lines that meander back and forth every few hundred feet for 20 miles (33 kilometers).

Mapvertising KFC

It isn’t shocking that massive ads have started appearing in distant regions for their watching enjoyment given the number of people who stalk Google Earth in their spare time—a practice known as “mapvertising.” For instance, the biggest Coca-Cola logo in the world is reportedly constructed of 70,000 empty Coca-Cola bottles and can be found in Chile at 18.5292 S and 70.2500 W(opens in new page). In Nevada, at 37.646163° N, 115.750819° W(opens in new browser), just off Extraterrestrial Highway, there used to be an 87,500 square foot image of Colonel Sanders—the KFC logo—but it has since been taken down.

Sizable shipwreck

2003 saw the S.S. Jassim, a freight ferry from Bolivia, run aground and sink off the shore of Sudan. Located at 19 38’45.99″N 37 17’42.17E(opens in new tab), it was once one of the biggest shipwrecks visible on Google Earth at 265 feet (81 meters) long, but it now seems to have gone almost entirely.

Landlocked lips

These lush lips are a hill feature in the Sudanese town of Gharb, which is situated at 12°22’13.32″N and 23°19’20.18″E.

Aussie UFO

In the midst of a field in Australia, at the coordinates 30°30’38.44″S 115°22’56.03″E, a peculiar triangle dotted with brilliant lights emerged. Ufologists dubbed it a “triangle UFO” captured in the act of floating above Earth when it was first spotted in 2007. It might be an antenna connected to a neighboring remote-controlled wind field, according to other Google Earth users. The antenna most likely received and relayed control signals because it had three pairs of cables creating a triangle and a structure in the center.

Secret military base

An ex-CIA expert claimed on Wired.com(opens in new tab) that he had found “structures” in the desert surrounding Kashgar, a city in China’s isolated Western desert that is a part of the Xinjiang region, sparking controversy over an enigmatic set of satellite photos seen on Google Earth.

Some people believed the structures there belonged to a covert military installation. However, after more research, Stefan Geens, a geospatial writer and engineer who has spent months in that region of China, said the location was probably a part of a significant industrial or economic hub.


Despite the fact that one of the structures in the compound resembled a helicopter testing area, experts said there is no reason to believe it is connected to military operations. Furthermore, the site is not ideal for a secret military base, since it’s relatively close to a major population area and no towers or barriers were spotted, said Stuart Hamilton(opens in new tab), former GIS program director at the Center for Geospatial Analysis at the College of William and Mary, and now a professor at Salisbury University in Maryland.

Earliest mention of Odin, ‘king of the gods,’ found in treasure hoard from Denmark

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