18

I would like to visit this location around latitude 14.346756 & longitude -80.223648. However, there is a black patch on the ocean floor in Google Maps (only visible in satellite view).

black patch on the ocean floor

What is this?

6
  • 7
    This is the same location in Bing maps.
    – brhans
    Oct 25 '17 at 21:41
  • 9
    How would you even consider this a "travel" question? Oct 26 '17 at 14:37
  • 3
    That looks an awful lot like the island from Lost. Oct 26 '17 at 16:51
  • 9
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's not about travel. Oct 26 '17 at 17:52
  • 2
    I had forgotten where I put my submarine, thanks.
    – Carl
    Oct 26 '17 at 18:46
33

If you zoom in, an atoll appears in that area:

enter image description here

Yet, this looks a little strange.

But also have a look at the group of four black spots north of your area. If you zoom in, the spots are suddenly filled with satellite images.

This is just a guess, but I think the usual satellite images are overlaid by a layer of ocean images, and this layer is made transparent where there are coast lines or other areas where satellite images would be better.

While the ocean layer is the same for almost all zoom levels, the satellite images are incomplete and not available for all zoom levels. And if there is no satellite image data, the hole in the ocean layer appears black.

(if someone wants to hide something there, it would be less suspicious to let it look like ocean)

EDIT:

While Google Maps does not show anything in its map layer there, OpenStreetMap contains much more detailed information, including the name of that place: Serrana bank

4
  • But what island is it? Does it have a name? Oct 25 '17 at 22:20
  • @DavidRicherby: Actually, no. Google Earth has no maps, and Google Maps (normal and mobile) just displays blue ocean at that location.
    – sweber
    Oct 26 '17 at 10:09
  • @sweber Oh, you're right. I had zoomed out, switched to map view, zoomed back in to roughly the same place and confused Serranilla Bank (about 160km north-north-east) with Serrana Bank. Oct 26 '17 at 10:13
  • There is a similar feature about 95km SSE (Roncador Cay) which is visible in OpenStreetMap but blacked out on Google Maps (even if you zoom in): google.com/maps/@13.5817221,-80.0917016,4756m/data=!3m1!1e3 I agree it is probably not deliberately concealed but just missing from the satellite imagery database. Oct 26 '17 at 12:42
24

I think it's Serrana Bank / Banco de Serrana, "a mostly underwater reef with 6 cays." from Wikipedia

The Google imagery is misleading in that it looks like the entire area is an island. The color change is mainly due to the relatively shallow depth in the area with the edges being the reefs.

And, surprise! there used to be a US military base there.

2
  • The color change is not due to the shallow depth; it is caused by the overlap with a different set of images taken under different circumstances (specifically, having different hue/saturation)
    – user40521
    Oct 26 '17 at 9:41
  • The island looks like a penis? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serrana_Bank
    – Troyer
    Oct 26 '17 at 14:29
6

Its nothing - its an artefact introduced by the Google Maps mapping system due to poor data, imagery or other issue.

There are loads of similar artefacts in the Google Maps product forum topic "Data Problems Compendium v 1110 January 19, 2012"

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.