No Top Secret Area 52 in Kilauea

While I was making the maps in Google Earth for the historical trail in Moloaa, I noticed we just had a major update of the satellite imagery for the whole island of Kauai.

When I made the maps two weeks ago, the Moloaa coastal bluff was brown, indicating the image was taken in late summer. When checked the maps for writing the article 2 days ago, it was all green again. Google Earth regularly updates the satellite images, usually providing higher resolution or less cloud cover. In the case of Kalalau valley and the Na Pali coast, updates have provided images with the sun at better angles, giving less black shadows from the tall cliffs.

But through all the updates, one mystery remained:


The bright green rectangle is a low resolution area where you cannot zoom in. Why couldn’t Google publish this satellite imagery? Were there missile silos at the Kilauea lighthouse? Did some landowner not want their luxury retreat visible to all? Was this the fabled Area 52, where aliens being held as unpaid field laborers on organic farms? I think I first noticed it because it includes most of the area devastated by the breach of the Kaloko dam (the lake is the round body of water at the bottom of the image above). It was so odd I made the screenshot above and meant to blog about it.

But now it is no more. With the latest update, not only are there less clouds over Kauai, this last piece of mystery is gone and you can zoom in to your heart’s delight. I do notice it is an old image, at least older than March 2006, because the Wailapa stream is pristine and not devasted by the Kaloko flood.

Actually, the low-res area had already been reduced when I made my maps, because the image above shows Moloaa in low resolution. When I made the maps just last week, I remember Larsen’s beach was hidden at the edge of the blur. Now you can see the large reef area at Larsen’s and beyond:


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  1. pat littlejohn says:

    great detective work, and prudent saving to file.

  2. pat littlejohn says:

    very good detective work, and glad you saved web shots. often we find that materials and information get yanked off sites, for one reason or another.

  3. Andy says:

    Yeah, I always save good information that I find on the web. Although in this case, it was more a lack of information that was worth documenting, if only because it was so glaring.

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