10 Fascinating Google Earth Discoveries Since Its Inception

10 Fascinating Google Earth Discoveries Since Its Inception

Today, becoming an explorer is a simple task. With the help of a computer that has access to the internet, we can virtually travel around the world. Google Earth, a virtual globe, map and geographical information program, allows a user to virtually travel to any place in the world with just a few clicks. With the help of satellite imagery, aerial photography and geographic information system (GIS) 3D globe, images are superimposed and provided as maps. While most of us use this amazing piece of technology to view our own homes, researchers and other scientific professionals use Google Earth to analyze areas around the globe; uncovering some pretty amazing things.

1. Ancient fish trap made of rocks, believed to be created more than 1,000 years ago was discovered by Google Earth.

ancient fish trap, google earth, maps, sea, Britain
Image: Google Earth

It’s not uncommon for researchers and other scientific professionals to use Google Earth and Google Maps as preliminary tools to analyze areas around the globe. In 2009, archaeologists studying aerial photographs of the West Wales coast, discovered an unusual rock formation while viewing the area through Google Earth. Upon closer inspection, they realized that the V-shaped structure was in fact a trap designed to catch fish without the need for a boat or fishing pole.

Stretching more than 280 yards, the rock formation was designed to act like a rock pool. Fish that swim with the current would get trapped behind the stone wall as the tide flowed out. The fishermen then simply walked to the formation and scooped up the trapped fish. Researchers who made this stunning discovery believe that the trap is around 1,000 years old.

2. An ancient Roman villa was accidentally discovered by a man who was using Google Earth to view his local area.

Rome, Italy, fact, facts, Google Earth
Image: Google Earth

95% of people who use Google Earth have used the service to check their house or area. That’s exactly what Luca Mori from Rome did. The service was made available to the public in 2005, and the same year, the first archaeological finding using Google Earth was made. Luca was using Google Earth to view his hometown and as he was browsing from one end to another, he came across an odd shape.

At first, Luca thought the dark oval shape could have been nothing more than a technological glitch but upon taking a closer look, he realized that there was more to the picture than just a glitch. Luca alerted the National Archaeological Museum, who conducted an expedition in the location and discovered an ancient villa filled with ancient ceramic pieces.

3. British scientist accidentally stumbled upon magnificent acres of rainforest in Mount Mabu.

Mount Mabu, Mozambique, Google Earth
Image: Google Earth

In a world where population is increasing at a rapid pace, it is hard to believe that there are still parts of Earth that are untouched by civilization. Deep within the African nation of Mozambique, there is a mountain clothed in dense green rainforest, untouched by humans. The civil war from 1977 to 1992 helped isolate this mountain from the outside world. Although the locals knew of this mountain, scientists were unaware of its existence until 2005. After Google Earth was released, a British scientist at Kew Royal Botanical Gardens, decided to take a look around for potential unknown biodiversity hotspots in Africa.

That’s when he saw Mount Mabu, unmapped, unexplored, unlogged and totally unrepresented. In 2008, a group of scientists embarked on a journey to this mountain and discovered varieties of new species of birds, plants, butterflies, monkeys and snakes, within a month. Since the forest was discovered using Google Earth, locals often call it the “Google Forest”.

4. The S.S. Jassim shipwreck off the coast of Sudan.

the S.S. Jassim, a Bolivian cargo ferry, google Earth
Image: Google Earth

In 2003, the S.S. Jassim, a Bolivian passenger/cargo ferry, hit shallow water on the Wingate Reef and capsized off the coast of Sudan. At 80.54 meters long and 13 meters wide, the shipwreck is clearly visible on Google Earth. The cargo ferry, which was built in Norway and launched in 1961, was owned by Al Ramzani Sea Transport of Qatar. It is one of the most searched and easily visible shipwrecks on Google Earth.

5. A mysterious dome believed to be created by ancient civilization was discovered in Antarctica.

A mysterious dome believed to be created by ancient civilization was discovered in Antarctica.
Image: Google Earth

In January of 2017, Google Earth was used to discover a mysterious structure on the South Pole. While some claim that the structure is no more than a natural phenomenon, a majority of experts believe that the dome is actually a remnant of ancient civilization. Scientists initially thought the discovery could be a sastrugi – a natural phenomenon formed by years of battering by strong, freezing winds and heavy snowfall. Sastrugi, however, are not known to form in oval shapes, such as the image above.

6. In 2008, scientists uncovered a buried pyramid in the Peruvian desert.

Pyramids, Peru, Google Earth
Image: Google Earth

In 2008, scientists were able to use Google Earth and special algorithms to unearth pyramids underneath a crop field. The newly discovered pyramids are just a mile away from the famous Nazca Lines in the Cahuachi desert. With the help of infrared technology, researchers were able to see through the top layer and uncover a pyramid that spans over 9000 square meters. An Egyptologist verified that the sites were previously undiscovered.

7. In 2017, archaeologists uncovered over 2000 potential archaeological sites in Saudi Arabia while using Google Earth.

400 mysterious stone structures in Saudi Arabia
Image: Google Earth

Unlike Mozambique, Saudi Arabia is a harsh terrain; making it hard for researchers and explorers to map it by foot. In 2017, a team of researchers were scouring the region via Google Earth when they stumbled upon something of great significance. What they had uncovered was over 2000 potential archaeological sites filled with prehistoric man-made stone structures, stone wheels, ancient animal traps and tombs shaped like kites. In the process, they also discovered a 93-mile-long wall in Jordan. While they are not exactly sure what the walls were used for, they speculate that it could have been used to mark boundaries between farms.

8. An Italian researcher found the world’s best preserved crater.

Kamil crater
Image: Google Earth

Located in a remote area of the Sahara desert, the millennium old crater went unnoticed for decades. It’s existence was only known in 2008, after an Italian researcher stumbled upon it while looking at Google Earth satellite imagery. Kamil, as the crater is called, may actually be the world’s best preserved crater and scientists estimate it to be at least a few thousand years old. Measuring 45m at its widest point and 16m deep at its deepest, scientist estimate that the meteor that hit Earth was only 1.3m in diameter; travelling at 12,875km/h. While craters can dissipate over time, scientists are astonished that the Kamil crater managed to survive for so long, allowing them to study its shape and splatter pattern of bedrock around it.

9. The world’s largest natural arch bridge remained obscured to the outside world until 2009.

Fairy Bridge, China
Image: Google Earth/Flickr

In 2009, Jay H. Wilbur, an arch enthusiast, aerospace engineer and founding member of the Natural Arch and Bridge Society (NABS), was browsing through Google Earth looking for natural bridges when his keen eyes spotted something. He saw what appeared to be a natural bridge spanning over a river. Chinese photographer “ivanytng” traveled to the location and took a panoramic shot, confirming that the spot which he thought was a natural bridge, was in fact, just that.

In 2010, a team of researchers from NABS traveled to the location and used laser technology to make detailed measurements. Their study confirmed that the “Fairy Bridge”, spanning over River Buliu, was in fact the largest natural arch bridge in the world.

10. The Star of David on top of the Iran Air headquarters in Tehran.

Star of David, Iran, Google Earth
Image: Google Earth

In 2010, it was discovered that the Iran Air headquarters in Tehran had the Star of David painted on the roof. While some considered it to be one of the most outrageous pranks in history, the Iranian officials were not amused and called for the symbol to be removed. According to the Iranian media, the Iran Air building was constructed by Israeli engineers, when relations between the two countries were much closer. After the Star of David was discovered on the Iran Air HQ, locals started using Google Earth and uncovered many other buildings with the same symbol etched on top.

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