What are the Russians hiding?
UPDATE: An update of Google’s imagery today (26/6/2013) has now addressed this ‘gap’, revealing just more mountains.
There are not many places that Google doesn’t allow the public to view on their maps, but in a remote section of Russia’s Far East one small section of mountains in Chukotka has been intentionally blurred. On Yahoo Maps the scene is similarly hidden from sight, this time with a more blatant black box. The nearest settlement, Egvekinot, is ~75 km away, and without any obvious roads leading into the area its hard to imagine what secrets could really be here.Some speculators on the interweb have suggested that due its strategic position near the USA the site is military-related, perhaps harbouring inter-continental missiles. However I find this hard to believe seeing as the Cold War ended over 20 years ago.
Intent on solving the mystery I logged on to the USGS’s EarthExplorer to download some satellite imagery of the region. This was easier said than done though since some datasets simply fail to cover the exact coordinates (e.g. see the Global Land Survey 2000 below).
Nevertheless some imagery is available (mostly Landsat ETM+), and although the permanent Scan Line Corrector failure means it is fairly banded, it appears that the blurred out area is just a continuation of the surrounding mountains (higher-res image). The resolution is 15 metres, but no straight edges appear visible that would indicate man-made structures.
It seems then that the rumours on there being a secret military base in the wilderness are just that – nothing more than a conspiracy theory.