More than six hundred miles off West Africa and more than three miles down lay a mysterious grid of lines that resembled the streets of a city. The image — discovered on internet mapping tool Google Earth — lay in an area of the Atlantic long thought of as a possible location for the city.
Experts were agog, marine geologists baffled and internet bloggers were buzzing. There were just two problems, however.
First, the grid of streets, walls and buildings turned out to be the size of Wales. That meant Altantis was 20 time as big as Greater London. More problematic still, the grid of lines doesn’t exist on the sea floor. According to Google, the pattern is an ‘artifact’ of its map-making process.
Details for the ocean maps on Google Earth come from sonar measurements of the sea floor recorded by boats — and the area around the Canaries was mapped by boats travelling in a series of straight lines. The grid can be found by anyone using the latest version of Google Earth on their computer. It lies in the Canary Basin, 620 miles west of the Canary Islands, and east of the undersea Konstantinov Ridge.
‘It’s true that many amazing discoveries have been made in Google Earth — a pristine forest in Mozambique that is home to previously unknown species, a fringing coral reef off the coast of Australia, and the remains of an ancient Roman villa, to name just a few,’ said a spokesman for Google.
‘In this case, however, what users are seeing is an artifact of the data collection process.
‘Bathymetric (sea-floor) data is often collected from boats using sonar to take measurements of the sea-floor. ‘The lines reflect the path of the boat as it gathers the data.’