Google Earth Mysteries is an ongoing series where we investigate strange phenomena in satellite imagery.

IN EPISODE ONE, we investigated a row of row of markings deep in the Sahara. There were dozens of them stretching for miles in a straight line in central Algeria, each consisting of a central point surrounded by a circle of 12 nodes, like numbers on a clock. We were hooked on finding an answer.

So we decided to make a video out of trying to solve the mystery, no matter where it took us. We documented every step of the process — from Zoom calls and web browser screen recordings to vlogs and field shoots — to show the reporting process from the inside out. And when we maxed out what we could learn on the internet, we handed the story over to Algerian videojournalist Samir Abchiche to find the answer at the location itself. 

IN EPISODE TWO, we looked at a strangely circular geological structure in the center of Madagascar. It covers a bigger area than the city of Paris — and at first glance, it looks completely empty. But right in the center of that structure, there’s a single, isolated village: a few dozen houses, some fields of crops, and dirt roads stretching out in every direction.

This time we partnered with a Malagasy team led by Lalie Rabeharison. When the team finally made contact with the community in the crater, they uncovered a story of human migration, self-sustenance, and connectivity unlike anything they could have imagined.