Google gets altitude wrong and drowns a city

Thank you to GEB reader ‘jonahtornado’ for letting us know that Google appears to have got the altitude wrong in the 3D for the Italian city of Crotone. If looked at in Google Earth with the ‘Water Surface’ turned on it appears to be underwater.

It is actually not uncommon for 3D imagery to have a slight difference in altitude between it and the Google Earth default terrain, which results in a visible step at the edge of 3D regions in some places. Being near the coast, however, has resulted in most of the city being below sea level, which makes for quite an interesting effect. For best results turn on “Use photorealistic atmosphere rendering” found in Tools -> Options.

Use this KML file to fly straight there in Google Earth.

The ‘cliff’ where the 3D imagery meets default terrain is about 30m high.

According to our KML file the above 3D imagery was added to Google Earth in December 2014.

About Timothy Whitehead

Timothy has been using Google Earth since 2004 when it was still called Keyhole before it was renamed Google Earth in 2005 and has been a huge fan ever since. He is a programmer working for Red Wing Aerobatx and lives in Cape Town, South Africa.


  1. Virtual tsunami, great

  2. I see that Google Earth keeps providing a lot of entertainment. This is how 3D buildings looked like in San Francisco a couple of years ago:
    Today it looks a bit better, but still is far from perfect. I wish they kept the detailed, hand-made building modes, and only added automatically generated models where if no better option was available.

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