Alas, that’s not Atlantis, Google says

by Emily Chung, CBCNews.ca

Could it be possible to find the mythic lost city of Atlantis by sifting through Google's sonar images of the ocean?

A British man caused quite a buzz over the weekend by suggesting that he may have found ancient Atlantis using Ocean in Google Earth. The recent upgrade to Google’s “virtual globe” allows people to explore ocean landscapes.

The Daily Telegraph, a national broadsheet newspaper in the U.K., reported Friday that 38-year-old Bernie Bamford of Chester, England, spotted what appeared to be a perfect “unexplained” grid about the size of Wales in the Atlantic Ocean at the coordinates 31 15'15.53N 24 15'30.53W, west of Morocco in North Africa, near the Canary Islands.

He suggested the location was near one of the possible sites where the island city, described by the ancient Greek philosopher Plato, was rumoured to have sunk into the ocean around 11,000 years ago.

Unfortunately, Google had an explanation for the "unexplained" grid – a rather unromantic one at that.

“In this case … what users are seeing is an artifact of the data collection process,” Google said in a statement issued over the weekend.

“Bathymetric (or seafloor terrain) data is often collected from boats using sonar to take measurements of the seafloor. The lines reflect the path of the boat as it gathers the data. The fact that there are blank spots between each of these lines is a sign of how little we really know about the world's oceans."

However, Google noted that other “amazing discoveries” have been found using 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.”

In other words: "Please try again."