‘The Eye’, a rotating island in Argentina

We recently came across this article about a floating island in Argentina that rotates. Producer and film director Sergio Neuspiller discovered it when filming in the area and has since started a Kickstarter to raise funds to investigate it further. See the Kickstarter promotion video below:

The island is visible in Google Earth imagery and has been in existence since at least 2003, the date of the oldest Google Earth image of the location. Here is an animation showing how it moves over time:

It is fairly obvious what is happening (no, it’s not an alien base as some have suggested). When you have a floating island and a water current that flows along one side of it, it will naturally rotate and become circular over time, as well as carving out a circular hole. The phenomenon is quite rare, because the conditions must be just right. Floating islands of plants are themselves quite rare, but in addition, it requires a current, though a fairly slow moving one.

[ Update: We believe wind may be the main factor in some instances rather than current. ]

There is a special type of floating island that is very common and that is ice. The phenomenon does occur with ice, as you can see in the YouTube videos below:



We tried to find other examples of rotating floating islands not made of ice and we found one on a lake in India:

Read more about it here.

We also found a reference to one in the Okavango delta. You can read the full story about it in a PDF found here. Apparently a Brian Wilson discovered a rotating floating island and identified it in aerial imagery from as far back as 1944. It could be seen to have kept rotating up until about 1974, when it attached itself to one side of the lagoon it was in and remained there until at least 1990. We had a look at the coordinates given and not far from that location did indeed find a floating island that has moved between 2006 and 2016. We cannot positively confirm that it is the same island.

But for the real treasure trove of rotating floating islands, the place to go is the Luapula River on the border of Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Sadly, there isn’t a lot of historical imagery, so good animations were not possible. So, we are showing them in the form of ‘before and afters’ to demonstrate that the islands do, in fact, move.

before
after

A round one, an oval and another shape, sharing a pool.

before
after
before
after

If we are not mistaken, the dark patches are fire scars, suggesting the island can sustain fires without destroying it.

before
after

A whole bunch of floating islands!

before
after
before
after

And that’s just some of them. There are many more! Amazingly, we could just (although only just) see some of them moving using our Landsat animations KML file.

To see the above locations in Google Earth, including historical imagery tours, download this KML file.

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.






PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.

Comments

  1. My money is on bog.

  2. Hill Penfold says:

    Thanks for the great post Timothy. We explored the floating islands in the Old Google Earth Community Here when one was discovered in Colombia in early 2011. The imagery on that one has yet to change. I also reposted the lake here hoping to start a new conversation in the New GEC.

    I’ll add a link to the NGEC post to your new information here,

  3. The Eye is located in ParanĂ¡ river’s delta, in Tigre county, northeast of the Buenos Aires province. It’s a zone where you can find plenty of floating vegetation, like the Camalote (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eichhornia_crassipes?wprov=sfla1)

  4. They’re called Floating Tussocks. Very common in Florida. I see them all the time.

  5. very round island at 7d 46m 29.74s N 77d 8 m 25.16s w



PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.