THERE are countless sites around the world deemed so classified that they are pixelated or blacked out by Google Earth.
Some are understandable, like some military sites, royal residences and say, the whole of North Korea. Others may surprise you. Pretty much all of them are the subject of conspiracy theories.
PACIFIC NORTHWEST, USA
This site is home to the highly controversial operation known as HAARP (High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program) and is located near the Washington-Oregon border.
Rumours HAARP works in conjunction with FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) have led to speculation about hidden agendas.
The conspiracy-minded believe HAARP is a secret weapon for weather modification and have blamed it triggering floods, droughts, major power outages and even earthquakes in Iran.
SZAZHALOMBATTA OIL REFINERY, HUNGARY
This Hungarian oil facility requested to be rendered green, with its buildings and grounds deleted, and nobody understands why.
Even more bizarre is the rumour that the only thing the green block is protecting is a field of grass. Which begs the question: what’s underneath the grass?
KEOWEE DAM, USA
This Christmas tree-shaped man-made reservoir in South Carolina has been heavily blurred by Google. While authorities have never confirmed it, it is believed the dam helps run the Oconee Nuclear Station. The paranoid often refer to the site as “America’s Fukushima”.
UNKNOWN AREA IN SIBERIAN TUNDRA, RUSSIA
This one is pretty chilling. Not only is there something dodgy about the blur itself compared to say the Minecraft-esque pixelation of the Volkel Air Base in The Netherland (see further down), but there’s a sinister story behind it.
The site is in the Siberian Tundra and the closest Russian city is believed to Egvekinot, which neighbours Alaska across the Bering Strait. In 1986, authorities sealed off dozens of cities and towns, many of them with populations of more than a million.
Some had mysterious numbers attached to their names including Krasnoyarsk-26, Tomsk-7 and Arzamas-16 — the latter believed to have been home to a colony of nuclear engineers who put an end to America’s nuclear monopoly.
Some believe that this site could be one of the mysterious secret cities taken over by the government during the Cold War era. Others say it’s either a radar station or missile interceptor.
Several netizens have commented that the area surrounding the blur appears to have been cut and pasted from another part of the country.
THE FAROE ISLANDS, DENMARK
The Faroe Islands are located halfway between Norway and Iceland in the North Atlantic Ocean but are controlled by Denmark. Islanders are known as Faroese and known for their proficiency in music. Nobody knows why sections of the archipelago have been blurred but its possible (at a stretch) that it has something to do with fishing rights.
THE VOLKEL AIR BASE, THE NETHERLANDS
The censorship of this site is a work of art compared to some of the other examples and the use of a camouflage coloured pixelation is rather cute.
What it hides is anything but cute, however. According to former Dutch Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers,
there are 22 US nuclear bombs stored in the bunkers of this air base. They include B61 thermonuclear bombs and a device said to be four times as powerful as the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.
Wikileaks published a diplomatic cable that confirmed the presence of nuclear warheads at this base in 2010.
Mr Lubbers confirmed the existence of the weapons three years later in a National Geographic documentary when he said: “I would never have thought those silly things would still be there
in 2013. I think they are an absolutely pointless part of a tradition in military thinking.”
THE MICHAEL AAF BUILDING, USA
This site in Utah is on land largely controlled by the US military and used to test biological and chemical weapons. That’s pretty much all we can say.
VALENCIA CITY, PHILIPPINES
Valencia City, population 160,000, is believed to be the headquarters of the government’s missile defence program and is pixelated for national security reasons.
BAKER LAKE, CANADA
Baker Lake in Nunavut is home to the Inuit nation in northern Canada. It has not been officially explained why large sections of the region have been blacked out. However, a notorious online conspiracy theorist known as Dr Boylan has spent many years trying to convince fellow earthlings that they hide the locations of “extraterrestrial beacons”.